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TIM ¥M@§1MI@ 

BY SAMUEL WARREN. D.C.L. 




GEORGE ROUTLEDGE 



SONS. 



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Uniform with this Volume, 

PASSAGES FROM 
THE DIARY OF A LATE PHYSICIAN. 

By SAMUEL WARREN, D. C.L. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR 



BY 

SAMUEL WARREN, D. C. L. 



Fortuna ssevo lsete negotio, et 
Ludum insolentem ludere pertinax, 
Transmutat incertos honores, 

Nunc mihi, nunc alii benigna. 
Laudo manentem. Si celeres quatit 
Pennas, resign© quK dedit, et mea 
Virtute me involvo, probamque 

Pauperiem sine dote quaero- — Horace. 

Fortune, that with malicious joy 

Does man, her slave, oppress, 
Proud of her office to destroy, 

Is seldom pleased to bless ; 
Still various, and unconstant still, 
But with an inclination to be ill, 
Promotes, degrades, delights in strife, 
And makes a lottery of life. 
I can enjoy her while she's kind ; 
— But when she dances in the wind, 
And shakes the wings, and will not stay, 
I puff the prostitute away : 
The little or the much she gave, is quietly resigned; 
Content with poverty my soul 1 arm, 
And virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm. 

Horace — by Dryden. 



LONDON 
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS 

BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL 
NEW YORK : 9 LAFAYETTE PLACE 



Uniform with this Volume, 

VALENTINE VOX. 

By Henry Cockton. 

HANDY ANDY. 

By Samuel Lover. 

HARRY LORREQUER. 
By Charles Lever. 

THE MYSTERIES OF PARIS. 
By Eugene Sue. 

THE WANDERING JEW. 
By Eugene Sue. 

THE SCOTTISH CHIEFS. 
By Jane Porter. 

LES MISERABLES. 
By Victor Hugo. 



EMILY, 



A LITTLE BLUE-EYED LAUGHING IMAGE 01' PURITY AXD HAPPINESS, 



THIS VOLUME IS INSCRIBED, 



AS A SLIGHT MEMORIAL OP A FATHER S AFFECTION FOR 



AN ONLY DAUGHTER. 



October, 1841. 



PREFACE. 



The Author of this Work bogs gratefully to express his con- 
viction that no small share of any success which it may have met 
with, is attributable to the circumstance of its' having had the 
advantage of an introduction to the public through the medium of 
Blackwood's Magazine — a distinguished periodical, to which he 
feels it an honour to have been, for a time, a contributor. 

One word, only, he ventures to offer, with reference to the 
general character and tendency of " Ten Thousand a- Year." He 
has occasionally observed it spoken of as merely a " comic," " an 
amusing and laughable " story ; but he cannot help thinking that 
no one will so characterize it, who may take the trouble of reading 
it throughout, and be capable of comprehending its scope and 
object. Whatever may be its defects of execution, it has been 
written in a grave and earnest spirit ; with no attempt whatever to 
render it acceptable to mere novel-readers ; but with a steadfast 
view to tha.t development and illustration, whether humorously or 
otherwise, of principles, of character, and of conduct, which the 
author had proposed to himself from the first, in the hope that he 
might secure the approbation of persons of sober, independent, and 
experienced judgment. 

Literature is not the author's profession. Having been led, by 
special circumstances only, to commence writing this work, he 
found it impossible to go on, without sacrificing to it a large portion 



viii PEEFACE. 

of the time usually allotted to repose, at some little cost both of 
health and spirits. This was, however, indispensable, in order to 
prevent its interference Avith his professional avocations. It has 
been written, also, under certain other considerable disadvantages 
— which may account for several imperfections in it during its 
original appearance. The periodical interval of leisure which his 
profession allows him, has enabled the author, however, to give 
that complete revision to the whole, which may render it worthier 
of the public favour. He is greatly gratified by the reception 
which it has already met with, both at home and abroad ; and in 
taking a final and a reluctant leave of the* public, ventures to ex- 
press a hope, that this work may prove to be an addition, however 
small and humble, to the stock of healthy English literature. 

London, October. 1841. 

* # * For the beautiful verses entitled "Peace," (at page 128,) 
the author is indebted to a friend. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



CHAPTER I. 

About ten o'clock one Sunday morn- 
ing, in the month of July 18 — , the 
dazzling sunbeams which had for seve- 
ral hours irradiated a little dismal back 
attic in one of the closest courts adjoin- 
ing Oxford Street, in London, and 
stimulated with their intensity the 
closed eyelids of a young man lying in 
bed, at length awoke him. He rubbed 
his eyes for some time, to relieve him- 
self from the irritation occasioned by 
the sudden glare they encountered ; 
and yawned and stretched his limbs 
with, a heavy sense of weariness, as 
though his sleep had not refreshed 
him. He presently cast his eyes on 
the heap of clothes lying huddled to- 
gether on the backless chair by the 
bedside, and where he had hastily 
flung them about an hour after mid- 
night ; at which time he had returned 
from a great draper's shop in Oxford 
Street, where he served as a shopman, 
and where he had nearly dropped asleep 
after a long day's work, in the act of 
putting up the shutters. He could 
hardly keep his eyes open ^ while he 
undressed, short as was the time re- 
quired to do so ; and on dropping 
exhausted into bed, there he had con- 
tinued in deep unbroken slumber, till 
the moment at which he is presented 
to the reader. He lay for several 
minutes, stretching, yawning, and 
sighing, occasionally casting an irreso- 
lute glance towards the tiny fireplace, 
where lay a modicum of wood and 
coal, with a tinder-box and a match 
or two placed upon the hob, so that he 



could easily light his fire for the pur- 
poses of shaving and breakfasting. He 
stepped at length lazily out of bed, 
and when he felt his feet, again yawned 
and stretched himself. Then he lit his 
fire, placed his bit of a kettle on the 
top of it, and returned to bed, where 
he lay with his eye fixed on the fire, 
watching the crackling blaze insinuate 
itself through the wood and coal. Once, 
however, it began to fail, so he had to 
get up and assist it, by blowing, and 
bits of paper ; and it seemed in so pre- 
carious a state that he determined not 
again to lie down, but sit on the bed- 
side : as he did, with his arms folded, 
ready to resume operations if necessary. 
In this posture he remained for some 
time, watching his little fire, and 
listlessly listening to the discordant 
jangling of innumerable church-bells, 
clamorously calling the citizens to their 
devotions. The current of thoughts 
passing through his mind, was some- 
thing like the following : — 

" Heigho !— Lud, Lud !— Dull as 
ditch water ! — This is my only holi- 
day, yet I don't seem to enjoy it ! — 
for I feel knocked up with my week's 
work! (A yawn.) What a life mine 
is, to be sure ! Here am I, in my 
eight-and-twentieth year, and for four 
long years have been one of the shop- 
men at Tag-rag & Co.'s, slaving from 
half-past seven o'clock in the morning 
till nine at night, and all for a salary 
of £35 a-year, and my board ! And 
Mr. Tag-rag — eugh ! what a beast !— 
is always telling me how high he's 
raised my salary ! Thirty-five pounds 
a-year is all I have for lodging, and 



10 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



appearing like a gentleman ! Ton my 
soul ! it can't last ; for sometimes I 
feel getting desperate — such, strange 
thoughts come into my mind ! — Seven 
shillings a- week do I pay for this cursed 
hole — (he uttered these words with a 
"bitter emphasis, accompanied by a dis- 
gustful look round the little room) — 
that oiie couldn't swing a cat in with- 
out touching the four sides ! — Last 
winter, three of our gents (i. e. his 
fellow-shopmen) came to tea with me 
one Sunday night ; and bitter cold as 
it was, we four made this cussed dog- 
hole so hot, we were obliged to open 
the window ! — And as for accommoda- 
tion — I recollect I had to borrow two 
nasty chairs from the people below, 
who on the next Sunday borrowed my 
only decanter, in teturn, and, hang 
them, cracked it !— '-Curse me, say I, 
if this life is worth having ! It's all 
the very vanity of vanities — as it's said 
somewhere in the Bible— and no mis- 
take ! Fag, fag, fog, all one's days, 
and — what for ? Thirty-five pounds 
a-year, and ' no advance ! ' (Here oc- 
curred a pause.) Bah, bells ! ring away 
till you're all cracked ! — Now do you 
think I'm going to be mewed up in 
church on this the only day out of the 
seven I've got to sweeten myself in, 
and sniff fresh air ? A precious joke 
that would be ! (A yawn.) "Whew ! 
— after all, I'd almost as lieve sit 
here ; for what's the use of my going 
out ? Everybody I see out is happy, 
excepting me, and the poor chaps that 
are like me ! — Everybody laughs when 
they see me, and know that I'm only 
a tallow-faced counter-j um per — I know 
that's the odious n.ane we gents go by ! 
— for whom it's no use to go out ! Oh, 
Lord ! what's the use of being good- 
looking, as some chaps say I am ? " — 
Here he instinctively passed his left 
hand through a profusion of sandy- 
coloured hair, and cast an eye towards 
the bit of fractured looking-glass that 
hung against the wall, and. which, by 
faithfully representing to him a by no 
means ugly set of features (despite the 
dismal hue of his hair) whenever he 
chose to appeal to it, had afforded 
him more enjoyment than any other 
object in the world for years. "Ah, 



by Jove ! many and many's the fine 
gal I've done my best to attract the 
notice of, while I was serving her in 
the shop, — that is, when I've seen her 
get out of a carriage ! There has been 
luck to many a chap like me, in the 
same line of speculation : look at Tom 
Tarnish — how did he get Miss Twang, 
the rich piano-forte maker's daughter ? 
— and now he's cut the shop, and lives 
at Hackney, like a regular gentleman ! 
Ah ! that was a stroke ! But some- 
how it hasn't answered with me yet : 
the gals don't take ! How I have set 
my eyes, to be sure, and ogled them — ■ 
all of them don' t seem to dislike the 
thing — and sometimes they'll smile, in 
a sort of way that says I'm safe — but 
it's been no use yet, not a bit of it ! — 
My eyes ! catch me, by the way, ever 
nodding again to a lady on the Sunday, 
that had smiled when I stared at her 
while serving her in the shop — after 
what happened to me a month or two 
ago in the Park I Didn't I feel like 
damaged goods, just then ! But it's 
no matter, women are so different at 
different times ! — Very likely I mis- 
managed the thing. By the way, 
what a precious puppy of a chap the 
fellow was that came up to her at the 
time sho stepped out of her carriage to 
walk a bit ! As for good looks — -cut 
mo to ribands (another glance at the 
glass) no ; I a'n't afraid thora, neither 
— but — -heigho ! — -I suppose he was, as 
they say, born with a golden spoon in 
his mouth, and had never so many a 
thousand a-year, to make up to him 
for never so few brains ! He was un- 
common well-dressed, though, I must 
own. What trousers ! — they stuck so 
natural to him, he might have been 
born in them. And his waistcoat, and 
satin stock — what an air ! And yet, 
his figure was nothing very out of the 
way ! His gloves, as white as snow ; 
I've no doubt he wears a pair of th^m 
a-day — my stars ! that's three-and- 
sixpence a-day ; for don't I know what 
they cost ? — Whew ! if I had but tho 
cash to carry on that sort of thing !— 
And when he'd seen her into her 
carriage — the horse he got on ! — and 
what a tiptop groom — that chap's 
wages, I'll answer for it, were equal to 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



11 



my salary ! (Here was another pause.) 
Mow, just for the i'un of the thing, 
oniy snppo.se luck was to befall m,e ! 
Say that somebody was to leave me 
lots of cash, — many thousands a-year, 
or something in that line ! My stars ! 
wouldn't I go it with the best of them ! 
(Another long pause.) Gad, I really 
should hardly know how to begin to 
spend it ! — 1 think, by the way, I'd 
buy a title to set off with — for what 
won't money buy ? The thing's often 
done; there was a great biscuit-baker 
in the city, the other day, made a 
baronet of, all for his money — and 
why shouldn't I ? " He grew a little 
heated with the progress of his reflec- 
tions, clasping his hands with invol- 
untary energy, as he stretched them 
out to their fullest extent, to give 
effect to a very hearty yawn. " Lord, 
only think how it would sound ! — 

' .SIR TITTLEBAT TITMOUSE, BAEONBT ; 
OK, LORD TITMOUSE.' 

"The very first place I'd go to, 
after I'd got my title, and was rigged 
out in Stulze's tip-top, should be — our 
cursed shop, to buy a dozen or two 
pair of white kid. What a flutter 
there would be among the poor pale 
devils as were standing, just as ever, 
behind the counters, at Tag-rag and 
Co. 's when my carriage drew up, and I 
stepped, a tip-top swell, into 'the shop. 
Tag-rag would come and attend to me 
himself. No, he wouldn't — pride 
wouldn't let him. I don't know, 
though : what wouldn't he do to turn 
a penny, and make two and ninopence 
into three and a penny ? I shouldn't 
quite come Captain Stiff over him, I 
think ; but I should treat him with a 
kind of an air, too, as if — hem ! Ton 
my life ! how r delightful ! (A sigh 
and a pause.) Yes, I should often 
come to the shop. Gad, it would be 
half the fun of my fortune ! How they 
would envy me, to be sure ! How one 
should enjoy it ! I wouldn't think of 
marrying till — and yet 1 won't say 
cither ; if I got among some of them 
out and outers — those first-rate articles 
. — that lady, for instance, the other day 
in the Park — I should like to see her 



cut me as she did, with ten thousand 
a-year in my pocket ! Why, she'd be 
running after vie, or there's no truth 
in novels, which I'm sure there's often 
a great deal in. Oh, of course, I 
might marry whom I pleased. Who 
couldn't be got with ten thousand a- 
year ? (Another pause.) I should go 
abroad to Russia directly ; for they tell 
me there's a man lives there who could 
dye this cussed hair of mine any colour 
I liked — egad ! I'd come home as black 
as a crow, and hold up my head as high 
as any of them ! While I was about 
it, I'd have a touch at my eyebrows " 

Crash went all his castle- building, 

at the sound of his tea-kettle, hissing, 
whizzing, sputtering in the agonies of 
boiling over ; as if the intolerable heat 
of the fire had driven desperate the 
poor creature placed upon it, who 
instinctively tried thus to extinguish 
the cause of its anguish. Having 
taken it off and placed it upon the hob, 
and put on the fire a tiny fragment of 
fresh coal, he began to make prepara- 
tions for shaving, by pouring some of 
the hot water into an old tea-cup, 
Which was presently to serve for the 
purposes of breakfast. Then he spread 
out a bit of crumpled whity-brown 
paper, in which had been folded up a 
couple of cigars, bought overnight for 
the Sunday's special enjoyment — and 
as to which, if he supposed they had 
come from any place beyond the four 
seas, I imagine him to have been 
slightly mistaken. He placed this bit 
of paper on the little mantelpiece ; 
drew his solitary, well-worn razor 
several times across the palm of his 
left hand ; dipped his brush, worn 
within a third of an inch to the stump, 
into the hot water ; presently passed 
it over so much of his face as he in- 
tended to shave ; then rubbed on the 
damp surface a bit of yellow soap — ■ 
and iu less than five minutes Mr. 
Titmouse was a shaved man. But 
mark — don't suppose that he had per- 
formed an extensive operation. One 
.would have thought him anxious to 
get rid of as much as possible of his 
abominable sandy-coloured hair — quite 
the contrary. Every hair of his 
spreading whiskers was sacred from 



12 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



the touch of steel ; and a bushy crop 
of hair stretched underneath his chin, 
coming curled out on each side of it, 
above his stock, like two little horns, 
or tusks. An imperial — i. e. a dirt- 
coloured tuft of hair, permitted to 
grow perpendicularly down the under 
lip of puppies — and a pair of promising 
mustaches, poor Mr. Titmouse had. 
been compelled to sacrifice some time 
before, to the tyrannical whimsies of 
his vulgar employer, Mr. Tag-rag, 
who imagined them not to be exactly 
suitable appendages for counter-jump- 
ers. So that it will be seen that the 
space shaved over on this occasion was 
somewhat circumscribed. This opera- 
tion over, he took out of his trunk an 
old dirty-looking pomatum pot. A 
little of its contents, extracted on the 
tips of his two fore fingers, he stroked 
carefully into his eye-brows ; then 
spreading some on the palms of his 
hands, he rubbed it vigorously into his 
stubborn hair and whiskers for some 
quarter of an hour ; and then combed 
and brushed his hair into half-a-dozen 
different dispositions — so fastidious in 
that matter was Mr. Titmouse. Then 
he dipped the end of a towel into a 
little water, and twisting it round his 
right fore-finger, passed it gently over 
his face, carefully avoiding his eye- 
brows, and the hair at the top, sides, 
and bottom of his face, which he then 
wiped with a dry corner of the towel ; 
and no farther did Mr. Tittlebat Tit- 
mouse think it necessary to carry his 
ablutions. Had he been able to " see 
himself as others saw him," in respect 
of those neglected regions which lay 
somewhere behind and beneath his 
ears, he might not possibly have 
thought it superfluous to irrigate them 
with a little soap and water ; but, 
after all, he knew best ; it might have 
given him cold : and besides, his hair 
was very thick and long behind, and 
might perhaps conceal anything that 
was unsightly. Then Mr. Titmouse 
drew from underneath the bed a bottle 
of "Warren's "incomparable blacking," 
and a couple of brushes, with great 
labour and skill polishing his boots up 
to a wonderful point of brilliancy. 
Having replaced his blacking imple- 



ments under the bed and washed his 
hands, he devoted a few moments to 
boiling about three tea-spoonfuls of 
coffee, (as it was styled on- the paper 
from which he took, and in which he 
had bought it — whereas it was, in fact, 
chicory.) Then he drew forth from 
his trunk a calico shirt, with linen 
wristbands and collars, which had been 
worn only twice since its last washing 
— i. e. on the preceding two Sundays 
— and put it on, taking great care not 
to rumple a very showy front, con- 
taining three little rows of frills ; in 
the middle one of which he stuck three 
"studs," connected together with two 
little gilt chains, looking exceedingly 
stylish — especially coupled with a 
span-new satin stock, which he next 
buckled round his neck. Having put 
on his bright boots, (without, I am 
sorry to say, any stockings,) he care- 
fully insinuated his legs into a pair of 
white trousers, for the first time since 
their last washing ; and what with his 
short straps and high braces, they 
were so tight that you would have 
feared their bursting if he should have 
sat down hastily. 1 am almost afraid 
that I shall hardly be believed ; but 
it is a fact, that the next thing he did 
was to attach a pair of spurs to his 
boots : — but, to be sure, it was not 
impossible that he might intend to 
ride during the day. Then he put on 
a queer kind of under- waistcoat, which 
in fact was only a roll-collar of rather 
faded pea-green silk, and designed to 
set off a very fine flowered damson- 
coloured silk waistcoat ; over which 
he drew a massive mosaic-gold chain, 
(to purchase which he had sold a 
serviceable silver watch,) which had 
been carefully wrapped up in cotton 
wool ; from which soft depository, also, 
he drew his ring, (those must have 
been sharp eyes which could tell, at a 
distance, and in a hurry, that it was 
not diamond, ) which he placed on the 
stumpy little finger of his red and 
thick right hand — and contemplated 
its sparkle with exquisite satisfaction. 
Having proceeded thus far with his 
toilet, he sat down to his breakfast, 
spreading the shirt he had taken off 
upon his lap, to preserve his white 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR 



13 



trousers from spot or stain — his 
thoughts alternating between his late 
waking vision and his purposes for the 
day. He had no butter, having used 
the last on the preceding morning ; 
so he was fain to put up with dry 
bread — and very dry and teeth-trying 
it was, poor fellow— but his eye lit on 
his ring ! Having swallowed two cups 
of his gMem'-coffee, (eugh ! such stuff !) 
he resumed his toilet, by drawing out 
of his other trunk his blue surtoutj 
with embossed silk buttons and velvet 
collar, and an outside pocket in the 
left breast. Having smoothed down 
a few creases, he put it on : — then, 
before the little vulgar fraction of a 
glass, he stood twitching about the 
collar, and sleeves, and front, so as to 
make them sit well ; concluding with 
a careful elongation of the wrist- 
bands of his shirt, so as to show their 
whiteness gracefully beyond the cuff 
of his coat- sleeve — and he succeeded 
in producing a sort of white boundary 
line between the blue of his coat-sleeve 
and the red of his hand. At that 
useful member he could not help look- 
ing with a sigh, as he had often done 
before — for it was not a handsome 
hand. It was broad and red, and the 
fingers were thick and stumpy, with 
very coarse deep wrinkles at every 
joint. His nails also were fiat and 
shapeless ; and he used to be con- 
tinually gnawing them till he had 
succeeded in getting them down to the 
quick — and they were a sight to set 
one's teeth on edge. Then he ex- 
tracted from the first mentioned trunk 
a white pocket-handkerchief — an ex- 
emplary one, that had gone through 
four Sundays' show, (not use, be it 
understood,) and yet was capable of 
exhibition again. A pair of sky- 
coloured kid gloves next made their 
appearance : which, however, showed 
sueh bare-faced marks of former ser- 
vice as rendered indispensable a ten 
minutes' rubbing with bread crumbs. 
His Sunday hat, carefully covered 
with silver-paper, was next gently 
removed from its well-worn box — ah, 
how lightly and delicately did he pass 
his smoothing hand round its glossy 
surface ! Lastly, he took down a thin 



black cane, with a gilt head, and full 
brown tassel, from a peg behind the 
door — and his toilet was complete. 
Laying down his cane for a moment, 
he passed his hands again through his 
hair, arranging it so as to fall nicely 
on each side beneath his hat, which, 
he then placed upon his head, with an 
elegant inclination towards the left 
side. He was really not bad-looking, 
in spite of his sandy-coloured hair. 
His forehead, to be sure, was con- 
tracted, and his eyes were of a very 
light colour, and a trifle too pro- 
tuberant ; but his mouth was rather 
well-formed, and being seldom closed, 
exhibited very beautiful teeth ; and 
his nose was of that description which 
generally passes for a Roman nose. 
His countenance wore generally a 
smile, and was expressive of — self- 
satisfaction : and surely any expres- 
sion is better than none at all. As 
for there being the slightest trace of 
intellect in it, I should be misleading 
the reader if I were to say anything 
of the sort. In height, he was about 
five feet and a quarter of an inch, in 
his boots, and he was rather strongly 
set, with a little tendency to round 
shoulders : — but his limbs were pliant, 
and his motions nimble. 

Here you have, then, Mr. Tittlebat 
Titmouse to the life — certainly no more 
than an average sample of his kind ; 
but as he is to go through a consider- 
able variety of situation and circum- 
stance, I thought you would like to 
have him as distinctly before your 
mind's eye as it was in my power to 
present him. — Well — he put his hat 
on, as I have said ; buttoned the lowest 
two buttons of his surtout, and stuck 
his white pocket handkerchief into the 
outside pocket in front, as already men- 
tioned, anxiously disposing it so as to 
let a little of it appear above the edge 
of the pocket, with a sort of careful 
carelessness — a graceful contrast to the 
blue ; drew on his gloves ; took his cane 
in his hand ; drained the last sad rem- 
nant of infusion of chicory in his coffee- 
cup ; and the sun shining in the full 
splendour of a July noon, and promising 
a glorious day, forth sallied this poor 
fellow, an Oxford Street Adonis, going 



14 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



forth conquering and to conquer ! 
Petty finery without, a pinched and 
stinted stomach within ; a case of Back 
versus Belly, (as the lawyers would 
say,) the plaintiff winning in a canter ! 
Forth sallied, I say, Mr. Titmouse, as 
also sallied forth that day some five or 
six thousand similar personages, down 
the narrow, creaking, close staircase, 
which he had not quitted before he 
heard exclaimed from an opposite win- 
dow, " My eyes ! a' n't that a swell ! " 
He felt how true the observation was, 
and that at that moment he was some- 
what out of his element ; so he hurried 
on, and soon reached the great broad 
street, apostrophized by the celebrated 
Opium- Eater, with bitter feeling, as — 
" Oxford Street ! — stony-hearted step- 
mother ! Thou that listenest to the 
sighs of orphans, and drinkest the 
tears of children ! " Here, though his 
spirits were not just then very buoyant, 
our poor little dandy breathed more 
freelythan whenhe was passing through 
the nasty crowded court (Closet Court) 
which he had just quitted. He passed 
and met hundreds who, like himself, 
seemed released for a precious day's 
interval from miserable confinement 
and slavery during the week ; but there 
were not very many of them who could 
vie with him in elegance of appearance 
— and that was a luxury ! Who could 
do justice to the air with which he 
strutted along ! He felt as happy, poor 
soul, in his little ostentation, as his 
Corinthian rival in tip-top turn-out, 
after twice as long, and as anxious, and 
fifty times as expensive, preparations 
for effective public display ! Nay, my 
poor swell was in some respects greatly 
the superior of such a one as I have 
alluded to. M r - Titmouse did, to a 
great degree, bedizen his back — at the 
expense of his belly ; whereas, the 
Corinthian exquisite, too often taking 
advantage of station and influence, 
recklessly both pampers his luxurious 
appetite within, and decorates his per- 
son without, at the expense of in- 
numerable heart-aching creditors. I 
do not mean, however, to claim any 
real merit for M r - Titmouse on this 
score, because I am not s,ure how he 
would a.pt if he were to become pos- 



sessed of his magnificent rival's means 
and opportunities for the perpetration 
of gentlemanly frauds on a splendid 
scale. — But we shall perhaps see by 
and by. 

Mr. Titmouse walked along with 
leisurely step ; for haste and perspira- 
tion were vulgar, and he had the day 
before.him.. Observe, now, the careless 
glance of self-satisfaction with which 
he occasionally regards his bright boots, 
with their martial appendage, giving 
out a faint clinking sound as he heavily 
treads the broad flags ; his spotless 
trousers, his tight surtout, and the tip 
of white handkerchief peeping acci- 
dentally out in front ! A pleasant sight 
it was to behold him in a chance ren- 
contre with some one genteel enough 
to be recognised — as he stood, resting 
on his left leg ; his left arm stuck upon 
his hip ; his right leg easily bent out- 
wards ; his right hand lightly holding 
his ebon cane, with the gilt head of 
which he occasionally tapped his teeth ; 
and his eyes, half closed, scrutinizing 
the face and figure of each ' ' pretty gal " 
as she passed, and to whom he had a de- 
licious consciousness that he appeared 
an object of interest ! This was indeed 
happ.'ness, as far as his forlorn con- 
dition could admit of his enjoying it. 
— He had no particular object in view. 
A tiff over-night with two of his shop- 
mates had broken off a party which 
they had agived the Sunday preceding 
in forming, to go that day to Greenwich; 
and this trifling circumstance had a 
little, soured his temper, depressed as 
were his spirits before. He resolved 
to-day to walk straight on, and dine 
somewhere a little way out of town, by 
way of passing the time till four o'clock, 
at which hour he intended to make his 
appearance in Hyde Park, "to see the 
swells and the fashions," which was 
his favourite Sunday occupation. 

His condition was, indeed, forlorn 
in the extreme. To say nothing of 
his prospects in life — what was his pre- 
sent condition ? A shopman, with 
£35 a-year, out of which he had to 
find his clothing, washing, lodging, 
and all other incidental expenses— 
his board being found him by his em- 
ployers ! He was five weeks in arrear 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



15 



to his landlady — a corpulent old ter- 
magant, whom nothing could have 
induced him to risk offending but his 
over-mastering love of finery ; for I 
grieve to say, that this deficiency had 
been occasioned by his purchase of the 
ring he then wore with so much pride. 
How he had contrived to pacify her — 
lie upon lie he must have had recourse 
to — I know not. He was in debt^ too, 
to his poor washerwoman in five or six 
shillings for at least a quarter's wash- 
ing ; and owed five times that amount 
to a little old tailor, who, with huge 
spectacles on his nose, turned up to 
him, out of a little cupboard which he 
occupied in Closet Court, and which 
Titmouse had to pass whenever he 
went to or from his lodgings, a lean, 
sallow, wrinkled face, imploring him 
to "settle his small account." All 
the cash in hand which he had to 
meet contingencies between that day 
and quarter-day, which was six weeks 
off, was about twenty-six shillings, 
of which he had taken one for the 
present day's expenses ! 

Revolving these somewhat disheart- 
ening matters in his mind, he passed 
easily and leisurely along the whole 
length of Oxford Street. No one could 
have judged from his dressy appearance, 
the constant smirk on his face, and his 
confident air, how very miserable that 
poor little dandy was ; but three- 
fourths of his misery were occasioned 
by the impossibility he felt of his ever 
being able to indulge in his propen- 
sities for finery and display. Nothing 
better had he to occupy his few 
thoughts. He had had only a plain 
mercantile education, as it is called, 
i. e. reading, writing, and arithmetic : 
beyond a very moderate acquaintance 
with these, he knew nothing whatever ; 
not having read more than a few novels, 
and plays, and sporting newspapers. 
Deplorable, however, as were his 
circumstances — 

"Hope springs eternal in the human 
breast." 

And probably, in common with most 
who are miserable from straitened 
circumstances, he often conceived, and 
secretly relied upon, the possibility of 



some unexpected and accidental change 
for the better : he had heard and read 
of extraordinary cases of luck. Why 
might he not be one of the lucky ? 
A rich girl might fall in love with him 
— that was, poor fellow ! in his con- 
sideration, one of the least unlikely 
ways of luck's advent ; or some one 
might leave him money ; or he might 
win a prize in the lottery ; — all these, 
and other accidental modes of getting 
enriched, frequently occurred to the 
well-regulated mind of Mr. Tittlebat 
Titmouse ; but he never once thought 
of one thing, viz. of determined, un- 
wearying industry and perseverance 
in the way of his business, conducing 
to such a result. 

Is his case a solitary one ? — Dear 
reader, you may be unlike poor Tittle- 
bat Titmouse in every respect except 
one .' 

On he walked towards Bayswater ; 
and finding it was yet early, and con- 
sidering that the further* he went from 
town the better prospect there was of 
his being able, with little sacrifice of 
appearances, to get a dinner consistent 
with the means he carried about with 
him, viz ; one shilling, he pursued his 
way a mile or two beyond Bayswater, 
and, sure enough, came at length upon 
a nice little public house on the road- 
side, called the Squaretoes Arms. Very 
tired, and very dusty, he first sat down 
in a small back room to rest himself ; 
and took the opportunity to call for a 
clothes-brush and shoe-brush, to re- 
lieve his clothes and boots from the 
heavy dust upon them. Having thus 
attended to his outer man, as far as 
circumstances would permit, he be- 
thought himself of his inner man, 
whose cravings he satisfied with a 
pretty substantial mutton-pie and a 
pint of porter. This fare, together 
with a penny to the little girl who 
waited on him, cost him tenpence ; 
and having somewhat refreshed him- 
self, he began to think of returning to 
town. Having lit one of his two 
cigars, he sallied forth, puffing along 
with an air of quiet enjoyment. Din- 
ner, however humble, seldom fails, 
especially when accompanied by a fair 
draught of good porter, in some con- 



16 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



siderable degree to tranquillize the ani- 
mal spirits ; and that soothing effect 
began soon to be experienced by Mr. 
Titmouse. The sedative cause he erro- 
neously considered to be the cigar he 
was smoking ; whereas in -fact the only 
tobacco he had imbibed was from the 
porter. But, however that might be, 
he certainly returned towards town in 
a far calmer and even more cheerful 
humour than that in which he had 
quitted it an hour or two before. 

As he approached Cumberland Gate, 
it was about half-past five ; and the 
Park might be said to be at its acme 
of fashion, as far as that could be indi- 
cated by a sluggish stream of carriages, 
three and four abreast — coroneted 
panels in abundance — noble and well- 
known equestrians of both sexes, in 
troops — and some thousand pedestrians 
of the same description. So continuous 
was the throng of carriages and horse- 
men, that Titmouse did not find it the 
easiest matter in the world to dart 
across to the footpath in the inner 
circle. That, however, he presently 
safely accomplished, encountering no 
more serious mischance than the mut- 
tered "D — n your eyes ! " of a haughty 
groom, between whom and his master 
Mr. Titmouse had presumed to inter- 
vene. What a crowd of elegant women, 
many of them young and beautiful, 
(who but such, to be sure, would be- 
come, or be allowed to become, pedes- 
trians in the Park ?) he encountered, 
as he slowly sauntered on, all of them 
obsequiously attended by brilliant 
beaux ! Lords and ladies were here 
manifestly as plentiful as plebeians in 
Oxford Street. What an enchanted 
ground ! — How delicious this soft crush 
and flutter of aristocracy ! Poor Tit- 
mouse felt a withering consciousness 
of his utter insignificance. Many a 
sigh of dissatisfaction and envy escaped 
him ; yet he stepped along with a 
tolerably assured air, looking every- 
body he met straight in the face, 
and occasionally twirling about his 
little cane with an air which seemed 
to say — "Whatever opinion you may 
form'of me, I have a very good opinion 
of myself." Indeed, was he not as 
much a man — an Englishman — as the 



best of them? What was the real 
difference between Count Do-'em-all 
and Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse? Only 
that the Count had dark hair and 
whiskers, and owed more money than 
Mr. Titmouse's creditors could be per- 
suaded to allow Mm to owe ! Would 
to Heaven — thought Titmouse— thf>t 
any one tailor would patronise Mm as 
half-a-dozen had patronised the Count ! 
If pretty ladies of quality did not dis- 
dain a walking advertisement of a few 
first-rate tailors, like the Count, why 
should they turn up their noses at an 
assistant in an extensive wholesale and 
retail establishment in Oxford Street, 
conversant with the qualities and prices 
of the most beautiful articles of female 
attire ? Yet alas, they did so I He 
sighed heavily. Leaning against the 
railing in a studied attitude, and eye- 
ing wistfully each gay and fashionable 
equipage, with its often lovely and 
sometimes haughty enclosure, as it 
rolled slowly past him, Mr. Titmouse 
became more and more convinced of a 
great practical truth, viz. that the 
only real distinction between mankind 
was that effected by money. Want 
of money alone had placed him in 
his present abject position. Abject 
indeed ! By the great folk, who were 
passing him on all sides, he felt, well- 
dressed as he believed himself to be, 
that he was no more noticed than as if 
he had been an ant, a blue-bottle fly, 
or a black beetle 1 He looked, and 
sighed — sighed, and looked — looked, 
and sighed, again, in a kind of agony 
of vain longing. While his only day 
in the week for breathing fresh air, 
and appearing like a gentleman in the 
world, was rapidly drawing to a close, 
and he was beginning to think of re- 
turning to the dog-hole he had crawled 
out of in the morning, and to the shop 
for the rest of the week ; the great, 
and gay, and happy folk he was look- 
ing at, were thinking of driving home 
to dress for their grand dinners, and 
to lay out every kind of fine amuse- 
ment for the ensuing week, and that 
was the sort of life they led every day 
in the week. He heaved a profound 
sigh. At that moment a superb cab, 
| with a gentleman in it dressed in great 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



elegance, and with .a very keen and 
striking countenance, came up with a 
cab of still more exquisite structure 
and appointments, and at which Tit- 
mouse gazed with unutterable feelings 
of envy — in which sat a young man, 
evidently of consequence ; very hand- 
some, with splendid mustaches ; per- 
fectly well-dressed ; holding the reins 
and whip gracefully in hands glisten- 
ing in straw-coloured kid gloves — and 
between the two gentlemen ensued the 
following low-toned colloquy, which 
it were to be wished that every such 
sighing simpleton (as Titmouse must, 
I fear, by this time, appear to the 
reader) could have overheard. 

"Ah, Fitz!" said the former- 
mentioned gentleman to the latter, 
who suddenly reddened when he per- 
ceived who had addressed him. The 
manner of the speaker was execrably 
— infernally familiar and presumptuous 
— but how could the embarrassed, swell 
help himself ? — " When did you 
return to town ? " 

" Last night only " 

" Enjoyed yourself, I hope ? " 

" Pretty well — but — I suppose 
you " 

" Sorry for it," interrupted the first 
speaker in a lower tone, perceiving the 
vexation of his companion; "but 
can't help it, you know." 

"When?" 

"To-morrow at nine. Monstrous 
sorry for it — 'pon my soul, you really 
must look sharp, or the thing won't 
go on much longer." 

" Must it be, really ? " enquired the 
other, biting his lips — at that moment 
kissing his hand to a very beautiful 
girl, who slowly passed him in a coro- 
neted chariot — "must it really be, 
Joe ? " he repeated, turning towards 
his companion a pale and bitterly 
chagrined countenance. 

' ' Poz, 'pon my life. Cage clean, 
however, and not very full — just at 
present " 

' ' Would not Wednesday !" — en- 
quired the other, leaning forward 
towards the former speaker's cab, and 
whispering with an air of intense 
earnestness. "The fact is, I've en- 
gagements at C 's on Monday and 



Tuesday nights with one or two coun- 
try cousins, and J may be in a condi- 
tion—eh ? you understand ? " 

His companion shook his head 
distrustfully. 

" Upon my word and honour as a 
gentleman, it's the fact ! " said the 
other, in a low vehement tone. 

"Then — say Wednesday, nine 
o'clock, a.m. You understand ? No 
mistake, Pitz ! " replied his compan- 
ion, looking him steadily in the face 
as he spoke. 

"None — honour! " — After a pause 
—"Who is it?" 

His companion took a slip of paper 
out of his pocket, and in a whisper 
read from it — "Cabs, harness, &c, 
£297, 10s." 

" A villain ! It's been of only three 
years' standing," interrupted the other, 
in an indignant mutter. 

"Between ourselves, he is rather a 
sharp hand. Then, I'm sorry to say 
there's a detainer or two I have had a 
hint of " 

"D— n their souls ! " exclaimed the 
other, with an expression of mingled 
disgust, vexation, and hatred ; and 
adding, "Wednesday — nine " — drove 
off, a picture of tranquil enjoyment. 

I need hardly say that he was a 
fashionable young spendthrift, and the 
other a sheriff's officer of the first water 
— the genteelest beak that ever was 
known or heard of — who had been on 
the look-out for him several days, and 
with whom the happy youngster was 
doomed to spend some considerable 
time at a cheerful residence in Chancery 
Lane, bleeding gold at every pore the 
while ;— his only chance of avoiding 
which, was, as he had truly hinted, an 
honourable attempt on the purses of 
two hospitable country cousins, in the 

mean while, at C 's ! And if he 

did not succeed in that enterprise, so 
that he must go to cage, he lost the 
only chance he had for some time of 
securing an exemption from such an- 
noyance, by entering Parliament to 
protect the liberties of the people — an 
eloquent and resolute champion of 
freedom in trade, religion, ar.d every- 
thing else ; and an abolitionist of 
everything, including, especially, 

o 



18 



TEX THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



negro slavery and imprisonment for 
debt — two execrable violations of the 
natural rights of mankind. 

But I have, for several minutes, lost 
sight of the admiring Titmouse. 

""Why," thought he, '-am /thus 
spited by fortune ? — The only thing 
she's given me. is — nothing ! — D — a 
evcrytldiig .'" exclaimed Mr. Titmouse 
aloud, at the same time starting off, 
to the infinite astonishment of an old 
peer, who had been for some minutes 
standing leaning against the railing, 
close beside him ; who was master of 
a magnificent fortune, "with all ap- 
pliances and means to boot ; " v. ith a 
fine grown-up family, his eldest son 
and heir having just gained a Double 
First, and promising wonders ; possess- 
ing many mansions in different parts 
of England ; of exquisite taste and 
accomplishment ; and the representa- 
tive of one of the oldest families in 
England ; but who at that moment 
loathed everything and everybody, 
including himself, because the minis- 
ter had the day before intimated to 
him that he could not give him a 
vac- ant riband, for which he had ap- 
plied, unless he could command two 
more votes in the Lower House, and 
which at present his lordship saw no 
earthly means of doing. Yes, the 
Earl of Cheviotdale and Mr. Tittlebat 
Titmouse were both miserable men ; 
both had been hardly dealt with ly 
fortune ; both were greatly to be 
pitied ; and both quitted the Park, 
about the same time, with a decided 
misanthropic tciid-.-ney. 

Mr. Titmouse walked along Picca- 
dilly with a truly chopfallen and 
disconsolate air. He almost felt dis- 
satisfied even with his personal appear- 
ance. Dress as he would, no one 
seemed to care a curse for him ; and, 
to his momentarily jaundiced eye, he 
seemed equipped in only second-hand 
and shabby finery : and then he was 
really such a poor devil ! — Do not, 
however, let the reader suppose that 
this was an unusual mood with Mr. 
Titmouse. Xo such thing. Like the 
Irishman who ' ' married a wife for to 
make him un-aisy ; " and also not 
unlike the moth that will haunt the 



brightness which is her destruction ; 
so poor Titmouse, Sunday after Sun- 
day, dressed himself out as elaborately 
as he had done on the present occasion, 
and then always betook himself to the 
scene he had just again witnessed, and 
which once again had excited only 
those feelings of envy, bitterness, and 
despair, which I have been describing, 
and which, on ever} - such occasion, he 
experienced with, if possible, increased 
intensity. 

What to do with himself till it was 
time to return to his cheerless lodgings 
he did not exactly know ; so he loitered 
along at a snail's pace. He stood for 
some time staring at the passengers, 
their luggage, the coaches they were 
ascending and alighting from, and lis- 
tening to the strange medley of coach- 
men's, guards', and. porters' vocifera- 
tions, and passengers' greetings and 
leave-takings — always to be observed 
at the White Horse Cellar. Then lie 
passed along, till a street row, near the 
Hayniarket, attracted his attention and 
interested his feelings ; for it ended in 
a regular set-to between two watermen 
attached to the adjoining coach-stand. 
Here he conceived himself looking on 
with the easy air of a swell ; and the 
ordinary penalty (paying for his foot- 
ing) was attempted to be exacted from 
him ; but he had nothing to be picked 
out of any of his pockets except that 
under his very nose, and which con- 
tained his white handkerchief. This 
over, he struck into Leicester Square, 
where, (he was in luck that night,) 
hurrying up to another crowd at the 
further end, he found a man preaching 
with infinite energy. Mr. Titmouse 
looked on, and listened for two or three 
minutes with apparent interest ; and 
then, with a countenance in which 
pity struggled with contempt, mut- 
tered, loud enough to be heard by all 
near him, " poor devil ! " and walked 
off. He had not proceeded many 
steps, before it occurred to him that a 
friend — one Robert Huckaback, much 
such another one as himself — lived in 
one of the narrow, dingy streets in the 
neighbourhood. He determined to 
take the chances of his being at home, 
and if so, of spending the remainder of 



TEX THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



19 



the evening with him. Huckaback s 
quarters were in the same ambitious 
proximity to heaven as his own ; the 
only dili'eivnce being, that they were a 
triile cheaper and larger. He answered 
the door himself, having only the 
moment before returned from Iris Sun- 
day's excursion, — i. c. the Jack Straw's 
Castle Tea-Gardens, at Highgate, 
where, in company with several of his 
friends, he had "spent a jolly after- 
noon. " He ordered in a glass of negus 
from the adjoining public-house, after 
some discussion, which ended in an 
agreement that he should stand treat 
that night, and Titmouse on the en- 
suing Sunday night. As soon as the 
negus arrived, accompanied by two 
sea-biscuits, which looked so hard and 
hopeless that they would have made 
the nerves thrill within the teeth of 
hint that meditated attempting to 
masticate them, the candle was lit — 
Huckaback handed a cigar to his 
friend ; and both began to puff away, 
and chatter pleasantly concerning the 
many events and scenes of the day. 

"Anything stirring in to-day's 
' Flash ? ' " enquired Titmouse, as his 
eye caught sight of a copy of that able 
and interesting Sunday newspap.r, the 
■•Sunday Flash," which Huckaback 
had lured for the evening from the 
news-shop on the ground-floor of his 
lodgings. 

Mr. Huckaback removed his cigar 
from his mouth, and holding it be- 
tween the first and second fingers of 
his right hand, in a knowing style, 
with closed eyes and inflated checks, 
very slowly ejected the smoke which 
he had last inhaled, and rose and 
got the paper from the top of the 
drawers. 

" Here's a mark of a beastly porter- 
pot tL.t's been set upon it, by all 
that's holy ! It's been at the public- 
house ! Too bad of Mrs. Coggs to 
send it me up in this state ! " said he, 
handling it as though its touch were 
contamination. — (,He was to pay only 
a halfpenny for the perusal of it.') 
" Fau<*h ! how it stinks | " 

1 ' What a horrid beast she must be ! " 
exclaimed Titmouse, after, in like 
manner as his friend, expelling his 



mouthful of smoke. " But, since 
bet.er can't be had, let's hear what 
news is in it. Demmee ! it's the only 
paper published, in my opinion, that's 
worth reading ! Any fights astirring '< " 

'• Haven't come to tin. in yet ; give 
a man time, Titty ! " rep.ied Hucka- 
back, fixing his feet on another chair, 
and drawing the candle closer to the 
paper. "It says, by the way, that 
the Duke of Dunderhead is certainly 
making up to Mrs. Thumps, the rich 
cheesemonger's widow ; — a precious 
good hit that, isn't it ? You know 
the Duke's as poor as a rat ! " 

• ' Oh ! that's no news. It's been in 
the papers for I don't know how long. 
Egad, 'twill quite set him up — and no 
mistake. Seen the Duke ever I " 

" Ye — es 1 Oh, several times ! " re- 
plied Huckaback. This was a lie, and 
Huckaback knew that it was. 

"Deuced good-looking, I suppose ? " 

' " Why — middling ; 1 should say 
middling. lino\\ some that needn't 
fear to compare with him — eh ! Tit ? " 
— and Huckaback winked archly at his 
friend, meaning him to consider the 
words as applicable to the speaker. 

" Ah, ha, ha ! — a pretty joke ! But 
come, that's a good chap ! — You can't 
be reading both of those two sheets at 
once — give us the other sheet, and set 
the candle right betwixt us ! — Come, 
fair's the word ! " 

Huckaback, thus appealed to, did 
as his friend requested ; and the two 
gentlemen read and smoked for some 
minutes in silence. 

"Well — I shall spell over the ad- 
vertisements now," said Titmouse ; 
"there's a pretty lot of them — and 
I'\e read everything else — (though 
precious little there is, 7ie>\', besides !) 
— So, here goes ! — One ■may hear of a 
prime situation, you know — and I'm 
quite sick of Tag-rag ! " 

Another interval of silence ensued. 
Huckaback was deep in the instructive 
details of a trial for murder ; and Tit- 
mouse, after having glanced listlessly 
over the entertaining first sheet of 
advertisements, was on the point of 
laying down his half of the paper, 
when he suddenly started in his chair, 
turned very pale, and stammered — ■ 



20 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



"Hollo! hollo, Hucky !— Why— " 

''What's the matter, Tit ?— eh ? " en- 
quired Huckaback, greatly astonished. 

For a moment Titmouse made no 
answer, but, dropping his cigar, fixed 
his eyes intently on the paper, which 
began to rustle in his trembling hands. 
What occasioned this outbreak, with 
its subsequent agitation, was the fol- 
lowing advertisement, which appeared 
in the most conspicuous part of the 
" Sunday Flash : " — 

"Next of Kin— Important.— The 
next of kin, if any such there be, of 
Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse, for- 
merly of Whitehaven, cordwainer, 
and who died somewhere about the 
year 1793, in London, may hear of 
something of the greatest possible 
importance to himself, or herself, or 
themselves, by immediately communi- 
cating with Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap, Solicitors, Saffron Hill. 
No time is to be lost. 9th July, 18 — . 
— The third advertisement." 

"By George ! Here is a go ! " ex- 
claimed Huckaback, almost as much 
flustered as Titmouse, over whose 
shoulder he had hastily read the above 
paragraph. 

"We aren't dreaming, Hucky — are 
we ? " enquired Titmouse, faintly, his 
eyes still glued to the newspaper. 

' ' No — by George ! Never was either 
of us fellows so precious wide awake in 
our lives before ! that I'll answer for ! " 
Titmouse sat still, and turned paler 
even than before. 

"Read it up, Huck ! — Let's hear 
how it sounds, and then we shall be- 
lieve it ! " said he, handing the paper 
to his friend. 

Huckaback read it aloud. 

"It sounds like something, don't 
it ? " enquired Titmouse tremulously, 
his colour a little returning. 

"Uncommon! — If this isn't some- 
thing, then there's nothing in anything 
anymore ! " replied Huckaback solemn- 
ly, at the same time emphatically 
slapping the table. 

" No ! — Ton my soul ! but do you 
really think so ? " said Titmouse, seek- 
ing still further confirmation than he 
had yet derived from his senses of sight 
and hearing. 



"I do, by jingo ! — What a go it is ! 
— Well, my poor old mother used to 
say, ' depend on it, wonders never will 
cease ; ' and curse me if she ever said a 
truer word ! " 

Titmouse again read over the adver- 
tisement ; and then picking up and 
relighting his fragment of cigar, puffed 
earnestly, in silence, for some mo- 
ments. 

" Such things never happens to such 
a poor devil of a chap as me ! " ex- 
claimed Huckaback, with a sigh. 

" What is in the wind, I wonder ! " 
muttered Titmouse. "Who knows — 
hem ! — who knows. — But now, really 

■ " he paused, and once more read 

over the pregnant paragraph. — " It 

can't — no, curse me, it can't be " 

he added, looking very serious. 

"What, Tit? What can't be?" 
interrupted Huckaback eagerly. 

"Why, I've been thinking — but 
what do you think, eh ? — it can't be a 
cursed hoax of the chaps in the pre- 
mises at Tag-rag's ? " 

"Bo! — Is there any of 'em flush 
enough of money to do the thing ? 
And how should they think it would 
ever come to be seen* by you ? — Then, 
besides, there isn't a chap among them 
that could come up to the composing 
a piece of composition like that — no, 
not for all a whole year's salary — there 
isn't, by George ! You and I couldn't 
do it, and, of course, they couldn't ! " 

"Ah! I don't know," said Tit- 
mouse doubtfully. ' ' But — honour ! — 
do you really now think there's any- 
thing in it ?" 

"I do— hanged if I don't, Tit!" 
was the sententious answer. 

" Tol de rol, de rol, de rol, de rol — 
diddl'em daddl'em — bang!" almost 
shouted Titmouse, jumping up, snap- 
ping his fingers, and dancing about in 
a wild ecstasy, which lasted for nearly 
a minute. 

" Give me your hand, Hucky," said 
he presently, almost breathless. " If 
I am a made man — tol de rol, lol de 
rol, lol de rol, lol ! — you see, Huck ! — 
if I don't give you the handsomest 
breastpin you ever saw ! No paste ! 
real diamond 1— Hurrah ! I will, by 
jingo ! " 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



21 



Huckaback grasped and squeezed 
his hand. ' ' We've always been friends, 
Tit — haven't we ? " said he, affection- 
ately. 

' ' My room won't hold me to-night ! " 
continued Titmouse; "I'm sure it 
won't. I feel as if I was, as you may 
say, swelling all over. I'll walk the 
streets all night : I couldn't sleep a 
wink for the life of me. I'll walk 
about till the shop opens. Oh, faugh ! 
how nasty ! Confound the shop, and 
Tag-rag, and everything and every- 
body in it ! Thirty-five pounds a- year ! 
See if I won't spend as much in cigars 
the first month ! " 

"Cigars! Is that your go ? Now, 
/ should take lessons in boxing, to 
begin with. It's a deuced high thing, 
you may depend upon it, and you can't 
be fit company for swells without it, 
Tit ! You can't, by Jove ! " 

' ' Whatever you like, whatever you 
like, Hucky ! " cried Titmouse — add- 
ing, in a sort of ecstasy, "I'm sorry to 
say it, but how precious lucky that my 
father and mother's dead, and that I'm 
an only child — too-ra-laddy, too-ra- 
laddy ! " Here he took such a sudden 
leap, that I am sorry to say he split 
his trousers very awkwardly, and that 
sobered him for a moment, while they 
made arraugiisjjfcis for cobbling it up 
as well as ltJWS^fit be, with a needle 
and thread^Rhich Huckaback always 
had by him. 

" We're rather jumping in the dark 
a-bit, aren't we, Tit ? " enquired 
Huckaback, while his companion was 
repairing the breach. "Let's look 
what it all means — here it is." He 



read it all aloud again- 



' greatest 



possible importance'" — "what can it 
mean ? Why the deuce couldn't they 
speak out lAjnly ? " 

' ' What I^HM^ newspaper ? "Lord, 
Hucky ! how many Titmouses would 
start up on all sides, if there isn't some 
already. I wonder what ' greatest pos- 
sible importance' can mean, now ! " 

"Some one's left you an awful lot 
of money, of course " 

" It's too good to be true " 

' ' Or you may have made a smite ; 
you a'n't such a bad-looking fellow, 
when you're dressed as you are now — 



you a'n't indeed, Titty ! " Mr. Tit- 
mouse was quite flustered with the 
mere supposition, and also looked as 
sheepish as his features would admit 
of. 

" E-e-e-eh, Hucky ! how ve-ry silly 
you are ! " he simpered. 

" Or you may be found out heir to 
some great property, and all that kind 
of thing. — But when do you intend to 
go to Messrs. What's-their-name '{ I 
say, the sooner the better. Come, 
you've stitched them trousers well 
enough, now ; they'll hold you till you 
get home — you do brace up uncom- 
mon tight ! and I'd take off my straps, 
if I was you. Why shouldn't we go to 
these gents now ? Ah, here they are 
— Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, 
solicitors." 

' ' I wonder if they're great men ? 
Did you ever hear of them before ? " 

" Haven't I ! Their names is always 
in this same paper ; they are every day 
getting people off out of all kinds of 
scrapes — they're the chaps / should 
nat'rally go to if I anyhow got wrong 
— ahem ! " 

"But, my dear fellow- — Saffron 
Hill ! — Low that — devilish low, 'pon 
my soul ! Never was near it in my 
life." 

" But they live there to be near the 
thieves. Lud, the thieves couldn't do 
without 'em ! But what's that to you ? 
You know ' a very dirty ugly toad has 
often got a jewel in his belly,' so Shak- 
speare or some one says. Isn't it 
enough for you, Tit, if they can make 
good their advertisement 't Let's off, 
Tit — let's off, I say ; for you mayn't 
be able to get there to-morrow — your 
employers ! " 

"My employers! Do you think, 
Hucky, I'm going back to business 
after this ? " 

"Come, come, Titty — not so fast 
— suppose it all turns out moon- 
shine, after all" — quoth Huckaback, 
seriously. 

" Lord, but I won't suppose it ! It 
makes me sick to think of nothing 
coming of it ! — Let's go off at once, 
and see what's to be done ! " 

So Huckaback put the newspaper in 
his pocket, blew out the candle, and 



22 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



the two started on their important 
errand; It was well that their means 
had been too limited to allow of their 
indulging to a greater extent than a 
glass of port-wine negus (that was the 
name under which they drank the 
"publican's port" — i.e. a decoction of 
oak bark, logwood shavings, an 1 a 
little brandy) between them ; other - 
wis3, excited as were the feelings of 
each of them by the discover}' of the 
evening, they must in all probability 
have been guilty of some piece of ex- 
travagance in the streets. As it was, 
they talked very loudly as they went 
along, and in a tone of conversation 
pitched perhaps a little too high for 
their present circumstances, however 
in unison it might be with the expected 
circumstances of one of them. 

In due time they reached the resi- 
dence of which they were in search. 
It was a large house, infinitely superior 
to all its dingy neighbours ; and on a 
bright brass plate, a yard long at least, 
and a foot wide, stood the awe-inspiring 
words, " Quiek, Gammon, & Snap, 
Solicitors." 

" Now, Tit," whispered Huckaback, 
after they had paused for a second' or 
two — "now for it — pluck up a sperrit 
— ring ! " 

"I — I — 'pon my life — I feel all of 
a sudden uncommon funky — I think 
that last cigar of yours wasn't " 

" Stuff, Tit — ring ! ring away ! 
Faint heart never wins ! " 

" Well, it must be done ; so — here 
goes, at any rate ! " he replied ; and 
with a short nervous jerk he caused a 
startling clatter within, which was so 
distinctly audible without, that both 
of them instinctively hemmed, as if to 
drown the noise which was so much 
greater than they had expected. In 
a very few moments they heard some 
one undoing the fastenings of the door, 
and the gentlemen looked at one 
another with an expression of mingled 
expectation and apprehension. A little 
old woman at length stood before them 
with a candle in her hand. 

"Who are you?" she exclaimed, 
crustily. 

" Is this Messrs. — what is it, Huck ? 
— Oh! Messrs. Quirk & Co.'s?" en- 



quired Titmouse, tapping the end of 
his cane against his chin, with a 
desperate effort to appear at his ease. 

"Why, where are your eyes? I 
should think you might have seen 
what was wrote on this here plate — it's 
large enough, one should have thought, 
to be read by them as cm/i read ! — 
What's your business ? " 

"We want — Give us the paper, 
Huc'ky " — he added, addressing his 
companion, who produced it in a 
moment ; and Titmouse would have 
proceeded to possess the old womar. 
of all his little heart, when she cut 
him short by saying, snappishly — 
"They aren't none on 'em in; nor 
never is on Sundays — so you'll just 
call to-morrow if you wants 'em. 
What's your names ? " 

" Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse," answered 
that gentleman, with a very jjarticular 
emphasis on every syllable. 

"Mr. who?" exclaimed the old 
woman, opening her eyes, and raising 
her hand to the back of her ear. Mr. 
Titmouse repeated his name more 
loudly and distinctly. 

" Tippetitippety !— what's that ? " 

"No, no!" exclaimed Titmouse 
peevishly ; "I said, Mr. Tit-el-bat 
Tit-mouse '.—will that suit you ? " 

" Tick-a-tick-a-tick ? - - Well, gra- 
cious ! if ever I heard such a name. 
Oh ! — I see ! — you're making a fool of 
me ! Get off, or I'll call a constable 
in ! — Get along with you, you couple 
of puppies ! Is tliis the way " 

" 1 tell you," interposed Mr. Hucka- 
back angrily, "that this gentleman's 
name is Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse ; and 
you'd better take care what you're at, 
old woman, for we've come on business 
of wital consequence ! " 

" I dare say it'll keep, then, till to- 
morrow," tartly added the old woman. 

The friends consulted for a moment, 
and then Titmouse asked if he might 
go in and write a letter to Messrs. 
Quirk. 

"No indeed ! " said she ; " how do 
I know who you are ? There's a 
public-house close by, where you may 
write what you like, and bring it here, 
and they'll get it the first thing in the 
morning. So that's what you may 



TEX THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



23 



take away with you ! " — with which 
the complaisant old janitrix shut the 
door in their faces. 

"Huck, 'pon my life, I am afraid 
there's nothing in it," said Titmouse, 
despondingly, to his friend — both of 
them remaining rooted to the spot. 

" Oudacious old toad ! " muttered 
Huckaback indignantly. 

" Hucky — I'm sure there's nothing 
in it ! " exclaimed Titmouse after a long 
pause, looking earnestly at his friend, 
hoping to draw from him a contrary 
opinion. 

"I— I own I don't half like the 
looks of it," replied Huckaback, put- 
ting his newspaper into his pocket 
again ; "but we'll try if we can't write 
a letter to sound 'em, and so far take 
the old creature's advice. Here's the 
public-house she told us of. Come, 
let's see what's to be done." 

Titmouse, greatly depressed, fol- 
lowed his friend ; and they soon pro- 
vided themselves with two glasses of 
stout, and after a little difficulty, with 
implements for writing. That they 
made good use of their time and ma- 
terials, let the following epistle prove. 
It was their joint composition, and 
here is an exact copy of it : — ■ 

" To Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 

Snap. 
" Sir, 

"Your Names being Put In an Ad- 
vertisement in This present Sunday 
Flash, Newspaper of To Day's Date, 
Mr. T. T. Begs To inform Your re- 
spectable House I feel Uncommon 
anxious To speak with them On This 
truly interesting subject, seeing It men- 
tions The Name Of Gabriel Tittlebat 
Titmouse, which Two last Names Of 
That Deceased Fe -son my Own Name 
Is, which can j.n j Day (As soon As 
Possible) call and prove To you, By 
telling voir The Same, truly. He 
being Engaged in Business During 
the week Very close, (for The Present,) 
I hope that If they Have Any thing 
particular To say To Him, they will 
write To me without The least Delay, 
and please address T. T., At Tag-rat; 
and Co.'s, No. 375, Oxford Street, 



Post-Paid, which will ensure Its Being 
duly Taken In By my Employers, and 
am, 

"Gents, 

" Yours to Command, 

"Tittlebat Titmouse. 

"P.S.— My Friend, that Is 'With 
me writing This, (Mr. Robert Hucka- 
back,) can prove who I am If necessi- 
tated so to do. 

"N.B. — Shall have no objections to 
do the Liberal Thing if anything 
suitable Turns Up Of It. 

" T T 

(" Sunday Evening, 9/7/18 — . 
"Forgot to Say, am The only Child 
of my Honoured Parents, one of which 
(my Mother) Died ; before I knew them 
In Lawful Wedloc, and Was 27 last 
Birth Day, Never having Seen your 
Advertisement Till This Night, w h , if 
Necessary can Prove.") 

This perspicuous and truly elegant 
performance having been thrice sub- 
jected to the critical examination of 
the friends, (the paragraph concerning 
Huckaback having been inserted at 
the instance of that gentleman, who 
wished to be mixed up from the be- 
ginning with so promising an affair,) 
was then folded up, and directed to 
"Messrs. Quirk and Co.," a great 
straggling wet wafer having been first 
put upon it. It was safely deposited, 
a few minutes afterwards, with the 
old woman of the house ; and then 
the two AVest-End gentlemen hastened 
away from that truly plebeian part of 
the town. Under three different gas- 
lights did they stop, take out the 
newspaper, and spell over the ad- 
vertisement ; by which ingenious pro- 
cesses they at length succeeded in 
satisfying themselves that there was 
something in it — a fact of which, 
upon the old woman shutting the 
door in their faces, it may be recol- 
lected they had had grievous mis- 
givings. They parted, however, with 
a considerable abatement of the ex- 
citement with which they had set out 
on their voyage of discovery. 

Mr. Titmouse did not, on reaching 
his room, take off and lay aside his 



24 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



precious Sunday apparel with his ac- 
customed care and deliberation. On 
the contrary, he peeled it off, as it 
were, and threw himself on the bed 
as quickly as possible, in order that 
he might calmly revolve the immense 
event of the day in his mind, which 
it had agitated like a stone thrown 
into a stagnant pool by the road-side. 
Oh, how restless was he ! — not more 
so could he have been had he lain 
between horse-hair sheets. He re- 
peatedly got up and walked about 
two or three little steps, which were 
all that his room admitted of. At the 
very first peep of daylight he started 
out of bed, got out of his pocket the 
newspaper which Huckaback had lent 
him, strove to decipher the advertise- 
ment, and then sunk into bed again 
— but not to sleep, till four or five 
o'clock ; having nevertheless to rise 
at half-past six, to resume his de- 
tested duties at Tag-rag and Co.'s, 
whose shop he assisted in opening at 
seven o'clock, as usual. When he and 
his shopmates were sitting together at 
breakfast, he could not help letting 
out a little, vaguely and mysteriously, 
about "something that might happen 
in the course of the day ; " and there- 
by s cceeded in satisfying his experi- 
enced companions that he expected 
the visit of a policeman, for some 
row he had been concerned in over- 
night. — Well, eight, nine, ten o'clock 
wore away heavily, and nothing trans- 
pired, alas ! to vary the monotonous 
duties in which Mr. Titmouse was 
engaged ; bale after bale, and package 
after package, he took down and put 
up ap;ain, at the bidding of pretty, 
capricious customers ; silk, satin, 
bombasins, crapes, muslins, ribands, 
gloves, he assisted in displaying and 
disposing of as usual ; but it was clear 
that his powerful understanding could 
no longer settle itself, as before, upon 
his responsible and arduous duties. 
Every other minute he cast a feverish 
furtive glance towards the door. He 
almost dropped, at one time, as a 
postman crossed from the opposite 
side of the street, as if. to enter their 
shop — then passing on immediately, 
however, to the next door. Not a 



person, in short, entered the premises, 
that he did not scrutinize narrowly 
and anxiously, but in vain. No — 
buying and selling was the order of 
the day, as usual ! — Eleven o'clock 
struck, and he sighed. "You don't 
seem well," said a pretty young 
woman, to whom, in a somewhat 
absent manner, he w r as exhibiting 
and describing the qualities of some 
cambric. " Oh — ye — es, uncommon ! " 
he replied; "never better, ma'am, 
than when so well employed! " accom- 
panying the latter words with what 
he conceived to be a very arch, but 
which was in fact a very impudent, 
look at his fair customer. At that 
moment a voice called out to him 
from the further end of the shop, 
near the door — "Titmouse ! Wanted !' ' 

" Coming ! " he shouted, turning as 
white as the cambric he held in his 
hands — which became suddenly cold ; 
while his heart went thump, thump, 
as he hastily exclaimed to the as- 
tonished lady, "Excuse me, ma'am, 
if you please — Jones," addressing the 
shopman ne.xt him, "will you attend 
to this lady?" and he hastened whither 
he had been called, amidst a prevalent 
grin and "hem ! " from his compan- 
ions on each side, as he passed along 
the shop, till he reached the spot 
where stood the stranger who had en- 
quired for him. He was of a slight 
and gentlemanly figure, above the 
average height. His countenance was 
very striking : he was dressed with 
simplicity — somewhat carelessly per- 
haps ; and appeared somewhere about 
thirty-six or thirty-seven years of age. 
He bowed slightly as Titmouse ap- 
proached him, and an air of very 
serious surprise came over his expres- 
sive countenance. 

"Mr. Titmouse?" he enquired, 
blandly. 

"Ye-e-s, sir, at your service," re- 
plied Titmouse, trembling involun- 
tarily all over. The stranger again 
slightly inclined towards him, and — 
still more slightly — touched his hat ; 
fixing on him, at the same time, an 
inquisitive penetrating eye, that rt ally 
abashed, or rather perhaps alarmed 
him. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



25 



"You left — you favoured us by leav- 
ing — a note at our office last night, 
addressed to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap ? " lie enquired, lowering 
his voice to a whisper. 

"Yes, sir, hoping it was no " 

"Pray, Mr. Titmouse, can we be 
alone for about five or ten minutes ? ' ' 

"I — I — don't exactly know, here, 
sir ; I'm afraid — against the rules of 
the house — but — I'll ask. Here is 
Mr. Tag-rag. — May I step into the 
cloak-room with this gentleman for 
a few minutes, sir ? " he continued, 
addressing his imperious employer, 
who, with a pen behind his 'right ear, 
his left hand in his breeches pocket, 
and his right hand impatiently tweed- 
ling about his watch seals, had 
followed Titmouse, on hearing him 
enquired for in the manner I have 
described, and stood at a yard or 
two's distance, eyeing the two with 
a fussy dissatisfied look, wondering 
what on earth any one could want 
with one of his young men. 

As Mr. Tag-rag will figure a little 
on my canvas by-and-by, I may as 
well here give the reader a slight 
sketch of that gentleman. He was 
about fifty-two years old ; a great 
tyrant in his little way ; a compound 
of ignorance, selfishness, and conceit. 
He knew nothing on earth except the 
price of his goods, and how to make 
the most of his business. He was of 
middle size, with a tendency to corpu- 
lence ; and almost invariably wore 
a black coat and waistcoat, a white 
neck-handkerchief very primly tied, 
and grey trousers. He had a dull, 
grey eye, with white eyelashes, and 
no eyebrow-; ; a forehead that seemed 
ashamed of his face, it retreated so 
far and so abruptly back from it ; his 
face was pretty deeply pitted with the 
smallpox ; his nose — or rather sem- 
blance of a nose — consisted of two 
great nostrils looking at you — as it 
were, impudently — out of the middle 
of his face ; there was a perfect level 
space from cheekbone to cheekbone ; 
his whiskers, neatly and closely cut, 
came in points to each corner of his 
mouth, which was a very large, shape- 
le», sensual-looking affair. This nuiy 



serve, for the present, to give you an 
idea of the man who had contrived to 
excite towards himself the hatred and 
contempt of everybody over whom he 
had any control. 

" You know quite well, sir, we never 
allow anything of the sort," was his 
short reply, in a very disagreeable tone 
and manner, to the modest request of 
Titmouse, as above mentioned. 

" May I beg the favour of a few 
minutes' private conversation with Mr. 
Titmouse," said the stranger, politely, 
"on a matter of the last importance 
to him ? My name, sir, is Gammon, 
and I am a solicitor." 

"Why, sir," answered Tag-rag, 
somewhat cowed by the calm and 
gentlemanly, but at the same time de- 
cisive manner of Mr. Gammon — "it's 
really very inconvenient, and decidedly 
against the rules of the house, for any 
of my young men to be absent on 
business of their own during my busi- 
ness-hours ; but — I suppose — what 
must be must be — I'll give him ten 
minutes — and he'd better not stay 
longer," he subjoined fiercely — looking 
significantly first at his watch, and 
then at Titmouse. " It's only for the 
sake of the other young men, sir. In 
a large establishment like ours, we're 
obliged, you know, sir," &c. &c. &c, 
he added, in a low cringing tone, de- 
precatory of the contemptuous air with 
which he felt that Mr. Gammon was 
regarding him. That gentleman, with 
a slight bow, and a sarcastic smile, 
presently quitted the shop, accom- 
panied by Titmouse, who scarce knew 
whether his head or heels were upper- 
most. 

"How far do you live from this 
place, Mr. Titmouse ?" enquired Mr. 
Gammon, as soon as they had got into 
the street. 

'.' X"ot four minutes' walk, sir ; but 
— hem ! " — he was flustered at the idea 
of showing so eminent a person into his 
wretched room — "Suppose we were to 
step into this tavern here, sir — I dare 
say they've a room at our service " 

' ' Pray, allow me to ask, Mr. Tit- 
mouse, — have you any private papers 
— family writings, or things of that 
sort, at your rooms ? " 



26 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAB. 



Titmouse seemed considering. 

"I — I think I have, sir,'' he replied 
— "one or two — but they're of no 
consequence." 

" Are you & judge on that point, Mr. 
Titmouse ? " enquired Mr. Gammon, 
with a smile ; ' ' pray let us, my dear 
sir, at once to your rooms — time is 
very short and valuable. I should 
vastly like to look at these same in- 
significant papers of yours ! " 

In less than two minutes' further 
time, Mr. Gammon was sitting at 
Titmouse's little rickety round table, 
at his lodgings, with a sheet of paper 
before him, and a small pencil-case in 
his hand, asking him a number of 
questions concerning his birth and 
family connexions, and taking down 
his answers very carefully. Mr. Tit- 
mouse was surprised at the gentleman's 
knowledge of the family history of the 
Titmouses. As for papers, &c, Mr. 
Titmouse succeeded in producing four 
or five old letters and memoranda from 
the bottom of his trunk, and one or 
two entries, in faded ink, on the fly-leaf 
of a Bible of his father's, which he did 
not recollect having opened before for 
very many years, and of which said 
entries, till pressed on the subject by 
Mr. Gammon, he had been hardly 
aware of even the existence. With 
these several documents Mr. Gammon 
was so much struck that he proposed 
to take them away with him, for better 
and more leisurely examination, and 
safer custody, at their office ; but Mr. 
Titmouse significantly hinted at his 
very recent acquaintance with Mr. 
Gammon, who, he intimated, was at 
liberty to come and make exact copies 
of them whenever he pleased, in his 
(Mr. Titmouse's) presence. 

"Oh, certainly — yes," replied Mr. 
Gammon, slightly colouring at the 
distrust implied by this observation ; 
"I applaud your caution, Mr. Tit- 
mouse. By all means keep them, and 
most carefully ; because, (I do not say 
that they are, ) but it is quite possible 
that they may become rather valuable 
— to you." 

" Thank you, sir : and now, hoping 
you'll excuse the liberty," said Tit- 
mouse, with a very anxious air, "I 



should most uncommonly like to know 
what all this means- — what is to turn 
up out of it all ? " 

"The law, my dear sir, is proverbi- 
ally uncertain " 

" Oh, Lord ! but the law can give me 
a hint " 

" The law never hints," interrupted 
Mr. Gammon impressively, with a 
bland smile. 

" Well then, how did you come, sir, 
to know that there ever was such a 
person as Mr. Gabriel Titmouse, my 
father ? And what can come from him, 
seeing he was only a bit of a shoe- 
maker — unless he's heir to some- 
thing ? " 

" Ah, yes — exactly ; those are very 
interesting questions, Mr. Titmouse — 
very ! " 

" Yes, sir ; and them and a great 
many more I was going to ask long 
ago, but I saw you were " 

"Sir, I perceive that we have posi- 
tively been absent from your place 
of business nearly an hour — your 
employers will be getting rather im- 
patient." 

" Meaning no offence, sir — bother 
their impatience ! Tm impatient, I 
assure you, to know what all this 
means/ Come, sir, 'pon my life I've 
told you everything ! It isn't quite 
fair ! " 

"Why, certainly, you see, Mr. Tit- 
mouse," said Gammon, with an agree- 
able smile — (it was that smile of his 
that had been the making of Mr. Gam- 
mon) — "it is only candid in me to 
acknowledge that your curiosity is 
perfectly reasonable, and your frank- 
ness very obliging ; and I see no 
difficulty in admitting at once, that / 

have had a motive " 

_ "Yes, sir — and all that — 7" know, 
sir," — hastily interrupted Titmouse, 
but without irritating or disturbing the 
placid speaker. 

"And that we waited with some 
anxiety for the result of our advei*tise- 
ment." 

"Ah, you can't escape from that, you 
know, sir ! " interposed Titmouse, with 
a confident air. 

" But it is a maxim with us, my 
, dear sir, never to be premature in any- 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



27 



thing, especially when it maybe — very 
prejudicial ; you've really nb idea, my 
dear Mr. Titmouse, of the world of 
mischief that is often done by pre- 
cipitancy in legal matters ; and in the 
present stage of the business — the 
present stage, my dear sir — I really do 
see it necessary not to — do anything 
premature, and without consulting my 
partners." 

" Lord, sir ! " exclaimed Titmouse, 
getting more and more irritated and 
impatient as he reflected on the length 
of his absence from Tag-rag & Go. 's. 

" I quite feel for your anxiety — so 
perfectly natural " 

"Oh, dear sir! if you'd only tell 
me the least hit " 

" If, my dear sir, I were to disclose 
just now the exact object wo had in 
inserting that advertisement in the 
papers- 



How did. you come to know of it 
at all, sir ? Come, there can't be any 
harm in that anyhow " 

" Not the least, my dear sir. It 
was in the course of business — in the 
course of business." 

" Is it money that's been left me — 
or — anything of that sort ? " 

" It quite pains me, I assure you, 
Mr. Titmouse — I think, by the way" — 
added Gammon suddenly, as something 
occurred to him of their previous con- 
versation, which he was not quite sure 
of— "you told me that that Bible was 
given you by your father. " 

" Oh yes, sir ! yes — no doubt of it ; 
surely that can't signify, seeing he's 
dead, and I'm his only son ? " asked 
Titmouse, quickly and eagerly. 

" Oh, 'tis only a circumstance — a 
mere circumstance ; but in business, 
you know, Mr. Titmouse, every little 
helps — and you really, by the way, 
have no recollection of your mother, 
Mr. Titmouse ? " 

"No, sir, I said so ! And — meaning 
no offence, sir — I can't abide being 
put off in this kind of way, — I 
must own ! — See what I have told you 
— you've told me nothing at all. I 
hope you haven't been only making 
me a cat's-paw of? 'Pon my soul, I 
hafe being made a cat's-paw of, sir ! " 

" Good heavens, Mr. Titmouse ! how 



can you imagine it ? You are at this 
moment the object of a considerable 
share of our anxiety " 

" Not meaning it rudely, sir — please 
to tell me at once, plainly, am I to 
be the better fof anything you're now 
about ? " 

"That may or may not be, sir," 
answered Mr. Gammon, in the same 
imperturbable manner, drawing on 
his gloves, and rising from his chair. 
" In justice to yourself, and other 
parties concerned " 

" Oh ! is anybody to share in it ? " 
exclaimed Titmouse, alarmedly. 

"I am sure," said Gammon, smil- 
ing, "that you will give us credit for 
consulting your best interests. We 
sincerely desire to advance them ; and 
this matter occupies a good deal of our 
time and anxiety. It — it is really," 
looking at his watch, ' ' upwards of an 
hour since we quitted your place of 
business — I fear I shall get into dis- 
grace with that respectable gentleman 
your employer. Will you favour us 
with a call at our office to-morrow 
night, when the business of the day is 
over ? When do you quit at night ? " 

"About half- past nine o'clock, 
sir ; but really — to-morrow night ! 
Couldn't I come to-night, sir ? " 

"Not to-night, I fear, my dear sir. 
We have a very important engage- 
ment. Let us say to-morrow night, 
at a quarter past ten — shall we say 
that hour ?" 

"Well, sir, if not before — yes — I'll 
be with you. . But I must say " 

"Good-day, Mr. Titmouse." They 
were by this time in Oxford Street 
again. "Good-day, my dear sir — 
good-day — to-morrow night, as soon 
after ten as possible — eh ? Good-bye." 

This was all that Mr. Titmouse could 
get out of Mr. Gammon, who, hailing 
a coach off the stand beside them, got 
into it, and it was soon making its 
way eastward. What a miserable mix- 
ture of doubts, hopes, and fears, had 
he left Titmouse ! He felt as if he 
were like a squeezed orange ; he had 
told everything he knew about him- 
self, and got nothing in return out 
of the smooth, imperturbable, im- 
penetrable Mr. Gammon, but empty 



28 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



civilities. — " Lord, Lord ! " thought 
Titmouse, as Mr. Gammon's coach 
turned the corner; "what would I 
give to know half about it that that 
gent knows ! But Mr. Tag-rag ! by 
Jove ! what "will he say ? It's struck 
twelve. I've been more than an hour 
away — and he gave me ten minutes ! 
Sha'n't I cateh it?" 

And he did. Almost the very first 
person he met, on entering the shop, 
was his respected employer, Mr. Tag- 
rag, who, plucking his watch out of 
his fob, and, looking furiously at it, 
motioned the trembling Titmouse to 
follow him to the further end of the 
long shop, where there happened to 
be then no customers. 

" Is this your ten minutes, sir, eh ? " 

"I am sorry " 

"Where may you have been, sir, all 
this while ?" 

"With that gentleman, sir, and I 
really did not know " 

" You didn't know, sir ! Who cares 
what you know, or don't know ? You 
know you ought to have been back 
fifty-five minutes ago, sir. You do, 
sir ! Isn't your time my property, 
sir % Don't I pay for it, sir ? An 
hour ! — in the middle of the day ! 
I've not had such a thing happen this 
five years ! I'll stop it out of your 
salary, sir." 

Titmouse did not attempt to inter- 
rupt him. 

"And pray what have you been 
gossiping about, sir, in this disgrace- 
ful manner ?" 

"Something that he wanted to say 
to me, sir." 

"You low puppy ! — do you suppose 
I don't see your impertinence ? I in- 
sist, sir, on knowing what all this 
gossiping with that fellow has been 
about ? " 

"Then you won't know, sir, that's 
flat ! " replied Titmouse doggedly ; re- 
turning to his usual station behind the 
counter. 

"I shan't!!" 

" No, sir, you sha'n't know a single 
word about it." 

"Sha'n't know a single word about 
it ! Vastly good, sir ! ! — Do you know 
whom you're talking to, sir ? Do you 



' really know in whose presence you are, 
sir ? " 

"Mr. Tag-rag, I presume, of the firm 
of Tag-rag and Co.," replied Titmouse, 
looking him full in the face.- — One or 
two of his companions near him, almost 
turned pale at the audacity he was 
displaying. 

" And who are you, sir, that dare to 
presume to bandy words with me, sir ? " 
enquired Tag-rag, his deeply pitted face 
having gone quite white, and his whole 
body quivering with rage. 

"Tittlebat Titmouse, at your ser- 
vice," was the answer in a glib tone, 
and with a sufficiently saucy air. 

" You heard that, I hope ? " en- 
quired Tag-rag, with forced calmness, 
of a pale-faced young man, the nearest 
to him. 

"Ye — es, sir," was the meekly re- 
luctant answer. 

" This day month you leave, sir ! " 
said Mr. Tag-rag solemnly — as if con- 
scious that he was passing a sort of 
sentence of death upon the presump- 
tuous delinquent. 

' ' Very well, Mr. Tag-rag — anything 
that pleases you pleases your humble 
servant. I will go this day month, 
and welcome — I've long wished " 

"Then you sha'n't leave, sir," said 
Tag-rag, furiously. 

" But I will, sir. You've given 
me warning ; and, if you haven't, now 
I give you warning," replied Titmouse ; 
turning, however, very pale, and ex- 
periencing a certain sudden sinking 
of the heart — for this w T as a serious 
and most unlooked-for event, and for 
a while put out of his head all the 
agitating thoughts of the last few 
hours. Poor Titmouse had enough to 
bear — what with the delicate raillery 
and banter of his accomplished com- 
panions for the rest of the day, and 
the galling tyranny of Mr. Tag-rag, 
(who dogged him about all day, setting 
him about the most menial and 
troublesome offices he could, and 
constantly saying mortifying things to 
him before customers,) and the state 
of miserable suspense in which Mr. 
Gammon had thought fit to leave 
him ; I say that surely all this was 
enough for him to bear without having 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



29 



to encounter at night, as he did, on 
his return to his lodgings, his bluster- 
ing landlady, who vowed that if she 
sold him out and out she would be put 
off no longer — and his pertinacious 
and melancholy tailor, who, with 
sallow unshaven face, told him of five 
children at home, all ill of the small- 
pox, and his wife in an hospital — and 
he implored a payment on account. 
This sufferer succeeded in squeezing 
out of Titmouse seven shillings on 
account, and his landlady extorted 
ten ; which staved off a distress — 
direful word ! — for some week or two 
longer ; and so they left him in the 
possession of eight shillings or so, to 
last till next quarter-day. He sighed 
heavily, ban'ed his door, and sat down 
opposite his little table, on which was 
nothing but a solitary thin candle, 
and on which his eyes rested uncon- 
sciously, till the stench of it, burning 
right down into the socket, roused 
him from his wretched reverie. Then 
he unlocked his box, and took out his 
Bible and the papers which had been 
produced to Mr. Gammon, and gazed 
at them with intense but useless 
scrutiny. Unable, however, to con- 
jecture what bearing they could have 
upon himself or his fortunes, he hastily 
replaced them in his box, threw off his 
clothes, and flung himself on his bed, 
to pass a far more dismal night than 
he had known for years. 

He ran the gauntlet at Messrs. Tag- 
rag and Co. 's all Tuesday as he had 
done on the day preceding. One should 
have supposed that when his com- 
panions beheld him persecuted by 
their common tyrant, whom they all 
equally hated, they would have made 
common cause with their suffering 
companion, or at all events given no 
countenance to his persecution ; yet it 
was far otherwise. Without stopping 
to analyse the feeling which produced 
it, (and which the moderately reflec- 
tive reader may easily analyse for 
himself if so disposed,) I am grieved 
to have to say, that when all the 
young men saw that Tag-rag would Jae 
gratified by their cutting poor Tit- 
mouse, who, with all his little vanities, 
fooleries, and even selfishness, had 



never personally offended or injured 
any of them — they did so ; and, when 
Tag-rag observed it, his miserable 
mind was more gratified with them by 
far than it had ever been before. He 
spoke to all of them with unusual 
blandness ; to the sinner, Titmouse, 
with augmented bitterness. 



CHAPTER II. 

A few minutes after ten o'clock that 
night, a gentle ringing at the bell of 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's 
office, announced the arrival of poor 
Titmouse. The door was quickly 
opened by a very fashionably dressed 
clerk, who seemed in the act of quit- 
ting for the night. 

"Ah. — Mr. Titmouse, I presume?" 
he enquired, with a kind of deference 
in his manner that Titmouse had never 
been accustomed to. 

"The same, sir — Tittlebat Tit- 
mouse." 

" Oh ! allow me, sir, to show you in 
to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap; 
I know they're expecting to see you. 
It's not often they're here so late ! 

Walk in, sir " With this he led 

the way to an inner room, and opening 
a green-baize door in the further side 
of it, announced and showed in Mr. 
Titmouse, and left him — sufficiently 
flustered. Three gentlemen were sit- 
ting at a large table, on which he saw, 
by the strong but circumscribed light 
of two shaded candlesticks, were lying 
a great number of papers and parch- 
ments. The three gentlemen rose 
when he entered, Mr. Quirk and Mr. 
Snap involuntarily starting on first 
catching sight of the figure of Tit- 
mouse : Mr. Gammon came and shook 
hands with him. 

"Mr. Titmouse," said he, with a 
very polite air, "let me introduce you 
to Mr. Quirk" — (This was the senior 
partner, a short, stout, elderly gentle- 
man, dressed in black, with a shining 
bald head and white hair, and sharp 
black eyes, and who looked very 



30 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



earnestly, nay, with even a kind of 
dismay, at him)— "and Mr. Snap " — 
(This was the junior partner, having 
recently been promoted to be such 
after ten years' service in the office, as 
managing clerk : he was about thirty, 
particularly well dressed, slight, 
active, and with a face like a terrier — ■ 
so hard, sharp, and wiry !) Of Mr. 
Gammon himself, I have already given 
the reader a slight notion. He ap- 
peared; altogether a different style of 
person from both his partners. He 
was of most gentlemanly person and 
bearing — and at once acute, cautious, 
and insinuating — with a certain some- 
thing about the eye, which had from 
the first made Titmouse feel uneasy on 
looking at him. 

" A seat, sir," said Mr. Quirk, 
rising, and placing a chair for him, on 
which he sat down, they resuming 
theirs. 

" You are punctual, Mr. Titmouse ! " 
exclaimed Mr. Gammon, with a smile ; 
" more so than, I fear, you were 
yesterday, after our long interview, 
eh ? Pray what did that worthy 
person, Mr. Rag-bag — or whatever his 
name is — say, on your return ? " 

"Say, gents?" — (he tried to clear 
his throat, for he spoke somewhat 
more thickly, and his heart beat more 
perceptibly, than usual) — "Meaning 
no offence — I'm ruined by it, and no 
mistake." 

" Ruined ! I'm sorry to hear it," 
interposed Mr. Gammon, with a con- 
cerned air. 

' ' I am, indeed, sir. Such a tower- 
ing rage as he has been in ever tince ; 
and he's given me warning to go on 
the 10th of nextmonth." He thought 
he observed a faint smile flit over 
the faces of all three. " He has, 
indeed !." 

' ' Dear me, Mr. Titmouse ! — Did he 
allege any reason for dismissing you ? " 
keenly enquired Mr. Quirk. 

" Yes, sir " 

" "What might it have been ? " 

"Stopping out longer than I was 
allowed, and refusing to tell him what 
this gentleman and I had been talking 
about." , , 

" Don't think that'll do ; sure it 



won't ! " briskly exclaimed Mr. Snap ; 
" no just cause, that," and he jumped 
up, whisked down a book from the 
shelves behind him, and eagerly 
turned over the leaves. 

" Never mind that now, Mr. Snap," 
said Mr. Quirk, rather petulantly ; 
' ' surely we have other matters to talk 
about to-night." 

"Asking pardon, sir, but I think it 
does matter to me, sir," interposed 
Titmouse; "for on the 10th of next 
month I'm a beggar — being next door 
to it now." 

"Not quite, we trust," said Mr. 
Gammon, with a benignant smile. 

"But Mr. Tag-rag said he'd make 
me as good as one." 

"That's evidence to show malice," 
again eagerly interjected Mr. Snap, 
who was again tartly rebuffed by Mr. 
Quirk ; even Mr. Gammon turning to- 
wards him with a surprised — ■" Really, 
Mr. Snap ! " 

"So Mr. Tag-rag said he'd make 
you a beggar ? " enquired Mr. Quirk. 

' ' He vowed he would, sir !— He did, 
as true as the gospel, sir ! " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed Mr. Quirk 
and Mr. Gammon — but such a laugh ! 
— not careless or hearty, but subdued, 
and with a dash of deference in it. 
"Well — it perhaps may not signify 
much, by that time," said he, and 
laughed again, followed by the soft 
laugh of Mr. Gammon, and a kind of 
sharp quick sound, like a bark, from 
Mr. Snap. 

"But, gents, you'll excuse me if I 
say I think it does signify to me, and 
a'n't any laughing matter ! " quoth 
Titmouse earnestly, and colouring with 
anger. "Without being rude, I'd 
rather come to business, if there's any 
to be done, without so much laughing 
at me." 

"Laughing at you! my dear sir,— 
no, no ! " exclaimed all three in a 
breath — "laughing with you," said 
Mr. Quirk ! — " By the time you men- 
tion, you may perhaps be able to laugh 
at Mr. Rag-bag, and everybody else 
for — - — " ' 

[—'No use mincing matters?' he 
whispered, in a low tone, to Mr, 
Gammon, who nodded in apparently 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



31 



reluctant acquiescence, and fixed his 
eyes earnestly on Titmouse.] 

" I really think we are warranted, 
sir, in preparing you to expect by that 
time — that is, you will understand, 
sir, if our efforts are successful in your 
behalf, and if you yield yourself im- 
plicitly in all things to our guidance — 
that is absolutely essential — a prospect 
— we say, at present, you will observe, 
only a prospect — of a surprising and 
splendid change in your circum- 
stances ! " Titmouse began to tremble 
violently, his heart beat rapidly, and 
his hands were bedewed with a cold 
moisture. 

"I hear, gents," said he, thickly; 
and he also heard a faint ringing in his 
ears. 

"It's not impossible, sir, in plain 
English," continued Mr. Quirk, him- 
self growing a little excited with the 
important communication that trem- 
bled on the tip of his tongue, "that 
you may at no distant timer (if you 
turn out to be the person) De put into 
possession of an estate of somewhere 

about Ten Thousand a-year " 

The words seemed to have struck 
Titmouse blind — as he saw nothing 
for some moments ; then everything 
seemed swimming around him, and he 
felt a sort of faintness or sickness 
stealing over him. They had hardly 
been prepared for their communica- 
tions affecting their little visitor so 
powerfully. Mr. Snap hastened out, 
and in with a glass of water ; "and the 
earnest attentions of the three soon 
restored Mr. Titmouse to his senses. 
It was a good while, however, before 
he could appreciate the little conver- 
sation which they now and then ad- 
dressed to him, or estimate the full 
importance of the astounding intelli- 
gence Mr. Quirk had just communi- 
cated, " Beg pardon — but may I make 
free to ask for a little brandy and 
water, gents ? I feel all over in a 
k'nd of tremble," said he, some time 
afterwards. 

" Yes — by all means, Mr. Titmouse. 
Mr. Snap, will you be kind enough to 
order Betty to bring in a glass of cold 
brandy and water from the" Jolly; 
Thieves, next door ?"— Snap shot out, 



gave the order, and returned in a 
trice. The old woman in a few 
minutes' time followed, with a large 
tumbler of dark brandy and water, 
quite hot, for which Mr Gammon 
apologized, but Mr. Titmouse said he 
preferred it so< — and soon addressed 
himself to the inspiring mixture. It 
quickly manifested its influence, re- 
assuring him wonderfully. As he sat 
sipping it, Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap being engaged in an earnest 
conversation, of which he could under- 
stand little or nothing, he had leisure 
to look about him, and observed that 
there was lying before them a large 
sheet of paper, at which they all of 
them often and earnestly looked, filled 
with marks, so — 



with writing at the ends of each of 
them, and round and square figures. 
"When he saw them all bending over 
and scrutinizing this mysterious ob- 
ject, it puzz'ed him (and many a 
better head than his has a pedigree 
puzzled before) sorely, and he began to 
suspect it was a sort of conjuring 
paper ! — 

"I hope, gents, that paper's all 
right — eh ? " (Laid he, supported by the 
brandy, which he had nearly finished. 
They turned towards him with a smile 
of momentary surprise, and then — 

' ' We hope so — a vast deal depends 
on it," said Mr. Quirk, looking over 
his glasses at Titmouse. Now what 
he had hinted at, as far as he could 
venture to do so, was a thought that 
glanced across his as yet unsettled 
brain, that there might have been 
invoked more than mere earthly assist- 
ance ; but he prudently pressed the 
matter no farther — that was all Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's look out ; 
he had been no party to anything of 
the sort, nor would he knowingly, 
He also observed the same sheets of 
paper written all over, which Mr. 
Gammon had filled at his (Titmouse's) 



32 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



room, the night before ; and several 
new, and old - looking, papers and 
parchments. Sometimes they ad- 
dressed questions to him, but found it 
somewhat difficult to keep his atten- 
tion up to anything that was said to 
him for the wild visions that were 
chasing one another through his heated 
brain ; the passage of which said 
visions was not a little accelerated by 
the large tumbler of brandy and water 
which he had just taken. 

•'Then, in fact,'' said Mr. Quirk, as 
the three simultaneously sat down, 
after having been for some time stand- 
ing poring over the paper before Mr. 
Quirk, " Tittlebat's title accrued in 
18 — ? That's the point — eh, Gam- 
mon ? " 

"Precisely so," said Mr. Gammon 
calmly. 

"To be sure," confidently added 
Snap ; who having devoted himself 
exclusively all his life to the sharpest 
practice of the criminal law, knew 
about as much of real property law as 
a snipe — but it would not do to appear 
ignorant, or taking no part in the 
matter, in the presence of the heir-at- 
law, and the future great client of the 
House. 

"Well, Mr. Titmouse,'' at length 
said Mr. Quirk, laying aside his glasses 
— "you are like.y to be one of the 
luckiest men of your day ! We may 
be mistaken, but it appears to us that 
your right is clear, and has been clear 
these ten or twelve years, to the im- 
mediate enjoyment of a very fine es- 
tate in Yorkshire, worth some £10,000 
or £12,000 a-year at the least ! " 

" You don't say so ! Oh, gents ! 
I do believe we're all dreaming ! Is 
it all true, indeed 1 " 

"It is, Mr. Titmouse — and we are 
verv proud and happy indeed to be 
the honoured instruments of establish- 
ing your rights, my dear sir,'' said Mr. 
Gammon. 

"Then all the money that's been 
spent this ten or twelve years is my 
money, is it ? " 

"If we are right it is undoubtedly 
as you say," answered Mr. Quirk, 
giving a quick apprehensive glance at 
Mr. Gammon. 



"There'll be a jolly reckoning for 
some one, then, shortly — eh ? My 
stars ! " 

" My dear Mr. Titmouse," said Mr. 
Gammon, "you have a most just 
regard for your own interests ; there 
u-ill be a reckoning, and a very terrible 
one ere long, for somebody — but we've 
time enough before us for all that ! 
Only let us have the unspeakable 
happiness of seeing you once fairly in 
possession of your estates, and our 
office shall know no rest till you have 
got all you are entitled to — every 
farthing even ! " . 

' ' Oh, never fear our letting them 
rest ! " said Mr. Quirk, judiciously 
accommodating himself to the taste 
and apprehension of his excited auditor 
— "Those that must give up the goose 
must give up the giblets also — ha, ha, 
ha ! " Messrs. Gammon and Snap 
echoed the laugh, and enjoyed the 
joke of the head of the firm. . 

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Mr. Tit- 
mouse, immensely excited by the con- 
joint influence of the brandy and the 
news of the night ; "capital ! capital ! 
hurrah ! Such goings on there will 
be ! You're all of the right sort, 
gents, I see ! 'Pon my life, law for 
ever ! Let's all shake hands, gents ! 
Come, if you please, all together ! all 
friends to-night ! " And the little 
fellow grasped each of the three readily- 
proffered right hands of Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap, with an energy 
that was likely to make all the high 
contracting parties to that quadruple 
alliance remember its ratification. 

" And is it ail a ready-money affair, 
gents — or rent, and all that kind of 
thing?" 

""Why, almost entirely the latter," 
answered Mr. Quirk, "except the 
accumulations." 

"Then, 'pon my soul — I'm a great 
landlord, am I ? " 

"Indeed, my dear Mr. Titmouse, 
you are — (that is, unless we have made 
a blunder such as our house is not 
often in the habit of making) — and 
have two very fine houses, one in town 
and the other in the country." 

"Capital! delightful! I'll live in 
both of them — we'll have such goings 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



33 



on ! And is it quite up to the mark 
of £10,000 a-year ?" 

" We really entertain no donbt " 

"And such as I can spend all of it, 
every year ? " 

" Certainly — no doubt of it — not the 
least. The rents are paid with most 
exemplary punctuality — at least," add- 
ed Mr. Gammon, with a captivating, 
an irresistible smile, and taking him 
affectionately by the hand — "at least 
they will be, as soon as we have them 
fairly in our management." 

" Oh, you're to get it all in for 
me, are you ? " he enquired briskly. 
The three partners bowed, with the 
most deprecatingly disinterested air 
in the world, intimating that, for his 
sake, they were ready to take upon, 
themselves even that troublesome re- 
sponsibility. 

"Capital! couldn't be better! 
couldn't be better ! Ah, ha, ha — 
you've catched the goose, and must 
bring me its eggs. Ah, ha, ha ! a 
touch in your line, old gent ! " 

"Ha, ha, ha! excellent! ah, ha, 
ha ! " laughed the three partners at 
the wit of their new client. Mr. Tit- 
mouse joined them, and snapped his 
fingers in the air. 

"Lord — I've just thought of Tag- 
rag and Company's — I seem as if I 
hadn't seen or heard of those gents for 
Lord know? how long ! Only fancy 
old Tag-rag making me a beggar on 
the 10th of next month — ha, ha, ha ! 
— I sha'n't see that infernal hole any 
more, anyhow ! " 

[" There ! " whispered Mr. Gammon, 
apprehensively, in the ear of Mr. Quirk, 
" you hear that ? A little wretch ! We 
have been perfectly insi.ne in going so 
far already with him ! Is not this 
what I predicted?" "I don't care," 
said Mr. Quirk stubbornly. "Who 
first found it out, Mr. Gammon ? and 
who's to be at the expense and respon- 
sibility ? Pshaw ! I know what I'm 
about — I'll make him knuckle down — 
never fear me ! "] 

" That" snapping his fingers, "for 
Mr. Tag-rag ! That for Mother S < gal- 
lop — Ah, ha, gents! It won't do 
to go back to that — eugh ! — eh ? 
will it ? — you know what I mean ! 



Fancy Tittlebat Titmouse standing 
behind " 

The partners looked rather blank. 

' ' We would venture to suggest, 
Mr. Titmouse," said Air. Gammon 
seriously, "the absolute nece"sity there 
is»for everything on your part and our 
parts to go on as quietly as before, 
for a little time to come : to be safe 
and successful, my dear sir, we must 
be secret." 

"Oh, I see, gen*s ! I see; mum — 
mum's the word, for the present ! But, 
I 'must say, if there Is any one whom 
I want to hear of it, sooner than 
another, it's " 

"Rag-bag and Co., I suppose! ha, 
ha, ha ! " interrupted Mr. Gammon, 
his partners echoing his gentle laugh. 

" Ha, ha, ha ! Cuss the cats — that's 
it — ha. ha, ha!" echoed Mr. Tit- 
mouse ; who, getting up out of his 
chair, could not resist capering to and 
fro in something of the attitude of a 
stage-dancer, whistling and humming 
by turns, and indulging in various 
other wild antics. 

' ' And now, gents — excuse me, but, 
to do a bit of business — when am I to 
begin scattering the shiners, eh ? " he 
enquired, interrupting a low-toned, 
but somewhat vehement conversation, 
between the two senior partners. 

"Oh, of course, sir," replied Mr. 
Gammon, rather coldly, "some delay 
is unavoidable. All we have done, as 
yet, is to discover that, as far as we 
are advised, and can judge, you will 
turn out to be the right owner ; but 
very extensive and expensive opera- 
tions must be immediately commenced, 
before you can be put into possession. 
There are some who won't be persuaded 
to drop £10,000 a-year out of then- 
hands, Mr. Titmouse, for the mere 
asking ! " added Mr. Gammon with a 
bitter smile. 

"The devil there are! Who are 
they that want to keep me any longer 
out of what's my own ? — what's justly 
mine ? Eh ? I want to know ! Haven't 
they kept me out long enough ? — hang 
'em ! Put 'em in prison directly — 
don't spare, 'em — rascals ! " 

"They'll probably, erelong, find 
their way in that direction — for, Lu\v- 

i) 



34 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



ever," replied Mr. Quirk, "he's to 
make up, poor devil, the mesne 
profits " 

" Mean profits ? — is that all you call 
them, gents ? 'Pon my life, it's rogue's 
money — villain's profits! So don't 
spare him — he's robbed the fatherless, 
which I am, and an orphan. Keep 
me out of what's mine, indeed ! Curse 
me if he shall, though ! " 

"My dear Mr. Titmouse," said 
Gammon gravely, ' ' we are getting on 
too fast — dreadfully too fast. It will 
never do : matters of such immense 
importance as these cannot be hurried 
on, or talked of, in this way — ■ — " 

" I like that, sir ! — I do, by Jove ! " 

"You will really, if you go on in 
this wild way, Mr. Titmouse, make us 
regret the trouble we have taken in 
the affair, and especially the prompt- 
ness with which we have communicated 
to you the extent of your possible good 
fortune." 

" Beg pardon, I'm sure, gents, but 
mean no offence : am monstrous obliged 
to you for what you've done for me — 
but, by Jove, it's taken me rather a- 
back, 1 own, to hear that I'm to be kept 
so long out of it all ! Why can't you 
<if!i'i- him, whoever he is that has my 
property, a slapping sum to go out at 
once ? Gents, I'll own to you I'm most 
uncommon low — never so low in my 
life — devilish low ! Done up, and yet 
can't get what's justly mine ! What 
am I to do in the mean while ? Con- 
sider that, gents ! " 

"You are rather excited just now, 
Mr. Titmouse," said Mr. Quirk seri- 
ously ; "suppose we now break up, 
and resume our conversation to-mor- 
row, when we are all in better and 
calmer trim ? " 

„"\f I' .thinking you all the 
w£v? \ll llulk , wd better go on 
with it now replied Titmousf im- 
petuously. "Do you think I ™n 
stoop to go back to that nasty beastl v 
shop, and stand behind the counter ? " 

"Our decided opinion, Mr. Tit 
mouse," said Mr. Quirk, emphatically 
— his other partners getting very grave 
in their looks — ' ' that is, if our opinion 
is worth offering " 

"That, by Jovel remains to be 



pettish 



seen," said Titmouse, with a 
shake of the head. 

"Well, such as it is, we offer it you ; 
and it is, that for many reasons you 
continue, for a little while longer, in 
your present situation 

' ' What ! own Tag-rag for my master 
—and I worth £10,000 a-year?" 

"My dear sir, you've not got it 
yet," said Mr. Quirk, with a very 
bitter sarcastic smile. 

"Do you think you'd have told me 
what you have, if you weren't sure 
that I should, though ? No, no ! you've 
gone too far, by Jove ! — I shall burst, 
I shall ! Me to go on as before ! — they 
use me worse and worse every day. 
Gents, you'll excuse me — I hope you 
will ; but business is business, gents- 
it is ; and if you won't do mine, I 
must look out for them that will — 
'pon my soul, I must, and — " If Mr. 
Titmouse could have seen, or, having 
seen, appreciated, the looks which the 
three partners interchanged, on hear- 
ing this absurd, ungrateful, and inso- 
lent speech of his — the expression that 
flitted across their shrewd faces ; that 
was, of intense contempt for him, 
hardly overmastered and concealed by 
a vivid perception of their own interest, 
which was, of course, to manage, to 
soothe, to conciliate him ! 

How the reptile propensities of his 
mean nature had thriven beneath the 
sudden sunshine of unexpected pros- 
perity ! — See already his selfishness, 
truculence, rapacity, in full play ! 

"So, gents," said he after a long 
and keen expostulation with them on 
the same subject, "I'm really to go to- 
morrow morning to Tag-rag and Co. 's, 
and go on with the cursed life I led 
there to-day, all as if nothing had 
happened, — ha, ha, ha ! — I like that ! " 

' ' In your present humour, Mr. Tit- 
mouse, it would be in vain to discuss 
the matter," said Mr. Quirk. " Again 
I tell you that the course we have 
recommended is, in our opinion, the 
Proper one ; excuse me if I add, that 
I wk v entirel y in our hands— and if 
ou^adMce^- at am y° u do but ado Pt 

somebody efcthat's LT^'L*" 1 ^ 
1 ' b elp me, 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



35 



heaven, I will ! So, good-night, gents ; 
you'll find that Tittlebat Titmouse 
isn't to he trifled with ! " So saying, 
Mr. Titmouse clapped his hat on his 
head, bounced out of the room, and, no 
attempt being made to stop him, he 
was in the street in a twinkling. 

Mr. Gammon gazed at Mr. Quirk 
with a look whose significance the old 
gentleman thoroughly understood — 
'twas compounded of triumph, re- 
proach, and apprehension. 

"Did you ever see such a little 
beast ! " exclaimed Mr. Quirk, with 
an air of disgust, turning to Mr. Snap. 

" Beggar on horseback ? " exclaimed 
Snap, with a bitter sneer. 

"It won't do, however," said Mr. 
Quirk, with a most chagrined and 
apprehensive air, "for him to go at 
large in his present frame of mind — 
he may ruin the thing altogether " 

"As good as £500 a-year out of the 
way of the office," said Snap. 

"It cannot be helped now," said 
Mr. Gammon, with a sigh of vexation, 
turning to Mr. Quirk, and seizing his 
hat — "he must be managed — so I'll 
go after him instantly, and bring him 
back at all hazards ; and we must 
really try and do something for him 
in the mean while, to keep him quiet 
till the thing's brought a little into 
train." So out went after Titmouse, 
Mr. Gammon, from whose lips dropped 
persuasion sweeter than honey ; and I 
should not be surprised if he were to 
be able to bring back that little 
stubborn piece of conceited stupidity. 

As soon as Mr. Titmouse heard the 
street door shut after him, with a kind 
of bang, he snapped his fingers once 
or twice, by way of letting off a little 
of the inflammable air that was in him, 
and muttered, " Pretty chaps those, 
upon my soul ! I'll expose them all ! 
I'll apply to the lord mayor — they're 
a pack of swindlers, they are ! This 
is the way they treat me, who've got 
a title to £10,000 a-year ! To be sure " 
— He stood still for a moment, and 
another moment, and dismay came 
quickly over him ; for it suddenly 
occurred to his partially obfuscated 
intellect — what hold had he got on 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap 1 



— what could he do ? — what had he 
done ? 

Ah — the golden vision of the last 
few hours was fading away moment- 
arily, like a dream ! Each second of 
his deep and rapid reflection, rendered 
more impetuous his desire and deter- 
mination to return and make his peace 
with Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap. By submission for the present, 
he could get the whip-hand of them 
hereafter ! He was in the act of turn- 
ing round towards the office, when 
Mr. Gammon softly laid his hand upon 
the shoulder of his repentant client. 

" Mr. Titmouse ! my dear sir, what 
is the matter with you ? How could 
we so misunderstand each other ? " 

Titmouse's small cunning was on the 
qui vive, and he saw and followed up 
his advantage. "I am going," said 
he, in a resolute tone, ' ' to speak to 
some one else, in the morning." 

"Ah, to be sure — I supposed as 
much — 'tis a matter which of course, 
however, signifies nothing to any one 
but yourself You will take any steps, 
my dear sir, that occur to you, and 
act as you may be advised." 

"Monstrous kind of you, 'pon my 
life ! to come and give me such good 
advice ! " exclaimed Titmouse with a 
sneer. 

" Oh, don't mention it ! " said Gam- 
mon coolly ; " I came out of pure good 
nature, to assure you that our office, 
notwithstanding what has passed, 
entertains not the slightest personal 
ill feeling towards you, in thus throw- 
ing off our hands a fearfully expensive, 
and most harassing enterprise — which 
we had too rashly undertaken — — " 

"Hem ! " exclaimed Titmouse, once 
or twice. 

"So good-night, Mr. Titmouse — 
good-night ! God bless you ! we part 
friends ! " Mr. Gammon, in the act 
of returning to the door, extended his 
hand to Mr. Titmouse, who he in- 
stantly perceived was melting rapidly. 

"Why, sir," quoth Titmouse, with 
a mixture of embarrassment and alarm, 
" if I thought you all meant the correct 
thing — hem ! I say, the correct thing 
by me — I shouldn't so much mind a 
little disappointment for the time ; 
D 2 



36 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



but you must own, Mr. Gammon, it 
is very hard being kept out of one's 
own so long — honour, now ! isn't it ? " 

"True, very true, Mr. Titmouse. 
Very hard it is, indeed, to bear, and 
we all felt deeply for you, and would 

have set everything in train " 

. " Would have " 

"Yes, my dear Mr. Titmouse, we 
would have done it, and brought you 
through every difficulty — over every 
obstacle, prodigious though they are, 
and almost innumerable." 

" Why — you — don't — hardly — 
quite — mean to say you've given it all 
up ? — What, already ! Ton my life ! 
Oh Lord ! " exclaimed Titmouse, in 
evident trepidation. 

. Mr. Gammon had triumphed over 
Mr. Titmouse ! whom, nothing loath, 
he brought back, in two minutes' time, 
into the room which Titmouse had 
just before so rudely quitted. Mr. 
Quirk and Mr. Snap had now their 
parts to perform in the little scene 
which they had determined on enact- 
ing. They were in the act of locking 
up desks and drawers, evidently on 
the move ; and received Mr. Titmouse 
with an air of cold surprise. 

"Mr. Titmouse again ! " exclaimed 
Mr. Quirk, taking his gloves out of his 
hat. " Back again ! — an unexpected 
honour." 

" Leave anything behind ? " en- 
quired Mr. Snap — " don't see any- 
thing " 

" Oh no, sir ! No, sir ! " exclaimed 
Titmouse, with eager anxiety. " This 
gent, Mr. Gammon, and I, have made 
it all up, gents ! I'm not vexed any 
more— not the least, 'pon my soul 
I'm not." 

" Vexed, Mr. Titmouse ! " echoed 
Mr. Quirk, with an air sternly ironical. 
"We are under great obligations to 
you for your forbearance ! " 

" Oh, come, gents ! " said Titmouse, 
more and more disturbed, " I was too 
warm, I dare say, and — and — I ask 
your pardon, all of you, gents ! I 
won't say another word, if you'll but 
buckle to business again — quite 
exactly in your own way — because 
you see " 

"It's growing very late," said Mr. 



Quirk coldly, and looking at his 
watch ; ' ' however, after what you have 
said, probably at some future time, 
when we've leisure to look into the 
thing " 

Poor Titmouse was ready to drop 
on his knees, in mingled agony and 
fright. 

"May I be allowed to say," inter- 
posed the bland voice of Mr. Gammon, 
addressing himself to Mr. Quirk, 
" that Mr. Titmouse a few minutes 
ago assured me, outside there, that 
if you, as the head of the firm, could 
only be persuaded to let our house 
take up his case again -" 

' ' I did — I did indeed, gents ! so 
help me ! " interrupted Mr. Tit- 
mouse, eagerly backing with an oath 
the ready lie of Mr. Gammon. 

Mr. Quirk drew his hand across his 
chin musingly, and stood silently for 
a few moments, evidently irresolute. 

"Well," said, he at length, but in 
a very cool way, "since that is so, pro- 
bably we may be induced to resume 
our heavy labours in your behalf; 
and if you will favour ns with a call 
to-morrow night, at the same hour, 
we may have, by that time, made up 
our minds as to the course we shall 
think fit to adopt." 

' ' Lord, sir, I '11 be here as the clock 
strikes, and as meek as a mouse ; and 
pray, have it all your own way for the 
future, gents — do ! " 

"Good-night, sir — good-night ! " 
exclaimed the partners, motioning 
towards the door. 

"Good-night, gents!" said Tit- 
mouse, bowing very low, and feeling 
himself at the same time being bowed 
out ! As he passed out of the room, 
he cast a lingering look at their three 
frigid faces, as if they were angels 
sternly shutting him out from Para- 
dise. What misery was his, as he 
walked slowly homeward, with much 
the same feelings (now that the fumes 
of the brandy had somewhat evapor- 
ated, and the reaction of excitement 
was coming on, aggravated by a recol- 
lection of the desperate check he had 
received) as a sick and troubled man 
who, suddenly roused out of a de- 
licious dream, drops into wretched 



TEX THOUSAND A-YEAE, 



37 



reality, as it were out of a fairy-land, 
which, With all its dear innumerable 
delights, is melting overhead into thin 
air — disappearing /o/ - ever. 

Closet Court had neve* 1 looked so 
odious to him as it did oh his return 
from this memorable interview. Dread- 
fully distressed and harassed, he flung 
himself on his bed for a moment, 
directly he had shut his door, intend- 
ing presently to rise and undress ; but 
Sleep, having got him p.ostrate, 
secured her victory. She waved her 
black wand over him, and — he woke 
not till eight o'clock in the morning. 
A second long-drawn sigh was pre- 
paring to follow its predecessor, when 
he heard the clock strike eight, and 
sprung off the bed in a fright ; for he 
ought to have been at the shop an 
hour before. Dashing a little water 
into his face, and scarce staying to 
wipe it off, he ran down-stairs, through 
the court, and along the street, never 
stopping till he had found his way into 
— almost the very arms of the dreaded 
jlr. Tag-rag ; who, rarely making his 
appearance till about half-past nine, 
had, as the deuce would have it, hap- 
pened to come down an hour and a 
half earlier than usual, on the only 
morning out of several hundreds on 
which Titmouse had been more than 
ten minutes beyond his time. 

' ' Yours ve-ry respectfully, Mr. 
Titmouse — Thomas Tag-rag!'' ex- 
claimed that personage with mock 
solemnity, bowing formally to his 
astounded and breathless shopman. 

" I — I — beg your pardon, sir ; but 
I wasn't very well, and overslept 
mysel"," stammered Titmouse. 

"' Ne-ver mind, Mr. Titmouse ! 
ne-ver mind ! — it don't much signify, 
as it happens,'' interrupted Mr. Tag- 
rag bitterly; "you've just got an 
hour and a half to take this piece of 
silk, with my compliments, to Messrs. 
Shuttle and "Weaver, in Dirt Street, 
Spitalfields, and ask them if they 
aren't ashamed to send it to a West- 
end house like mine ; and bring back 
a better pieee instead of it ! D'ye 
hear, sir ? " 

" Yes, sir — but — am I to go before 
mv breakfast, sir •' " 



" Did I say a word about breakfast, 
sir ? You heard my orders, sir ; you 
can attend to them or not, Mr. 
Ti: mouse, as you please ! " 

Off trotted Titmouse histantcr, with- 
out his breakfast ; and so Tag-rag 
gained one object ho had had in view. 
Titmouse found this rather trying : a 
five-mile walk before him, with no in- 
considerable load under his arm, having 
had nothing to eat since the preceding 
evening, when he had partaken of a 
delicate repast of thick slices of bread, 
smeared slightly over with salt butter, 
and moistened with a most astringent 
decoction of tea-leaves sweetened with 
brown sugar, and discoloured with 
sky-blue milk. He had not even a 
farthing about him wherewith to buy 
a penny roll ! As he went disconsol- 
ately along, so many doubts and fears 
buzzed impetuously about him, that 
they completely darkened his little 
soul, and bewildered his small under- 
standing. Ten Thousand a- Year ! — 
it was never meant for the like of him. 
He soon worked himself into a convic- 
tion that the whole thing was infinitely 
too good to be true ; the affair was 
desperate ; it had been all moonshine ; 
for some cunning purpose or another, 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, 
had been — ha, here he was within a 
few yards of their residence, the scene 
of last night's tragic transactions ! As 
lie passed Saffron Hill, he paused, 
looked up towards the blessed abode, 

"Where centred all his hopes and fears," — 

uttered a profound sigh, and passed 
slowly on towards Spitalfields. The 
words "Quirk, Gammon, and Snap," 
seemed to be written over every shop- 
window which he passed — their images 
filled his mind's eye. What could 
they be at? They had been all very 
polite and friendly — and of their own 
seeking: had he affronted them? 
How coldly and proudly they had 
parted with him overnight ! 1 1 was 
evident that they could stand no 
nonsense — they were great lawyers ; 
so he must (if they really would allow 
him to see them again) eat humble 
pie cheerfully till he had got all that 
they had to give him. How he dreaded 



38 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



the coming night ! Perhaps they in- 
tended civilly to tell him that they 
would have nothing more to do with 
him ; they would get the estate for them- 
selves, or some one else that would be 
more manageable ! They had taken 
care to tell him nothing at all about 
the nature of his pretensions to this 
grand fortune. Oh, how crafty they 
were — they had it all their own way ! 
— But what, after all, had he really 
done ? The estates were his, if they 
were really in earnest — his, and no 
one's else ; and why should he be kept 
out of them at their will and pleasure ? 
Suppose he were to say he would give 
them all he was entitled to for £20,000 
down, in cash ? Oh no ; on second 
thoughts, that would be only two 
years' income ! But on the other 
hand — he dared hardly even propose 
it to his thoughts — still, suppose it 
should really all turn out true ! Good- 
ness gracious ! — that day two months 
he might be riding about in his carriage 
in the Parks, and poor devils looking 
on at him, as he now looked on all 
those who now rode there. There he 
would be, holding up his head with 
the best of them, instead of slaving 
about as he was that moment, carrying 
about that cursed bundle — ough ! how 
he shrunk as he changed its position, 
to relieve his aching right arm ! Why 
was his moutn to be stopped — why 
might he not tell his shopmates ? 
What would he not give for the luxury 
of telling it to the odious Tag-rag ? 
If he were to do so, Mr. Tag-rag, he 
was sure, would ask him to dinner the 
very next Sunday, at his country house 
at Clapham ! — Thoughts such as these 
so occupied his mind, that he did not 
for a long while observe that he was 
walking at a rapid rate towards the 
Mile-end road, having left White- 
chapel church nearly half a mile 
behind him ! The possible master of 
£10,000 a-year felt fit to drop with 
fatigue, and sudden apprehension of 
the storm he should have to encounter 
when he first saw Mr. Tag-rag after 
so long an absence. He was detained 
for a cruel length of time at Messrs. 
Shuttle and Weaver's, who not having 
the required quantity of silk at that 



moment on their premises, had some 
difficulty in obtaining it, after having 
sent for it to one or two neighbouring 
manufactories ; by which means it 
came to pass that it was two o'clock 
before Titmouse, completely exhausted 
and dispirited, and reeking with per- 
spiration, had reached Tag-rag and 
Company's. The gentlemen of the 
shop had finished their dinners. 

" Go up-stairs and get your dinner, 
sir ! " exclaimed Tag-rag imperiously, 
after having received Messrs. Shuttle 
and Weaver's message. 

Titmouse having laid down his 
heavy bundle on the counter, went up- 
stairs hungry enough, and found him- 
self the sole occupant of the long close- 
smelling room in which his companions 
had been recently dining. His dinner 
was presently brought to him by a 
slatternly slipshod servant-girl. It 
was in an uncovered basin, which ap- 
peared to contain nothing but the 
leavings of his companions — a savoury 
intermixture of cold potatoes, broken 
meat, (chiefly bits of fat and gristle,) 
a little hot water having been thrown 
over it to make it appear warm and 
fresh — (faugh !) His plate (with a 
small pinch of salt upon it) had not 
been cleaned after its recent use, but 
evidently only hastily smeared over 
with a greasy towel, as also seemed his 
knife and fork, which, in their dis- 
gusting state, he was fain to put up 
with, the table-cloth on which he 
might have wiped them having been 
removed. A hunch of bread that 
seemed to have been tossing about in 
the pan for days, and half-a-pint of 
flat-looking f.ud sour-smelling table- 
beer, completed the fare set before 
him ; opposite which he sat for some 
minutes, too much occupied with 
his reflections to commence his repast. 
He was in the act of scooping out of 
the basin some of its inviting contents, 
when— " Titmouse ! " exclaimed the 
voice of one of his shopmates, peering 
in at him through the half-opened 
door, " Mr. Tag-rag wants you ! He 
says you've had plenty of time to 
finish your dinner ! " 

" Oh, tell him, then, I' m only just 
beginning my dinner— eugh ! such as 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



39 



it is," replied Titmouse, masticating 
the first mouthful with an appearance 
of no particular relish, it may be 
supposed. 

In a few minutes' time Mr. Tag-rag 
himself entered the room, stuttering — 
"How much longer, sir, is it your 
pleasure to spend over your dinner, 
eh ■>-. " 

'• Not another moment, sir," an- 
swered Titmouse, looking with ill- 
concealed disgust at the savoury 
victuals before him; "if you'll only 
allow me a few minutes to go home 
and buv a penny roll instead of all 
this -" 

" Ve — ry good, sir ! Ve — ry parti 
— cu — larly good, Mr. Titmouse," 
replied Tag-rag, with ill-subdued fury ; 
' ' anything else that I can make a 
Icctle memorandum of against the day 
of your leaving us ? " 

This hint of two-fold terror, i. e. of 
withholding the wretched balance of 
salary that might be due to him, on 
the ground of miscondu'ct, and of also 
giving him a damning character, dis- 
pelled the small remains of Titmouse's 
appetite, and he rose to return to the 
shop, involuntarily clutching his fist 
as he brushed close past the tyrant 
Tag-rag on the stairs, whom he would 
have been delighted to pitch down head- 
foremost ; and if he had done so, none 
of his fellow-slaves below, in spite of 
their present sycophancy towards Tag- 
rag, would have shown any particular 
alacrity in picking up their common 
oppressor. Poor Tittlebat resumed his 
old situation behind the counter ; but 
how different his present from his 
former air and manner ! With his pen 
occasionally peeping pertly out of his 
bushy hair over his right ear, and his 
yard measure in his hand, no one, till 
Monday morning, had been more 
cheerful, smirking, and nimble than 
Tittlebat Titmouse : alas, how crest- 
fallen now ! None of his companions 
could make him out, or guess what 
was in the wind ; so they very justly 
concluded that he had been doing 
something dreadfully disgraceful, the 
extent of which was known to Tag-rag 
and himself alone. Their jeers and 
banter were giving place to cold dis- 



trustful looks, that were much more 
trying to bear. How he longed to bo 
able to burst upon their astounded 
minds with the pent-up intelligence 
that was silently racking and splitting 
his little bosom ! But if he did — the 
terrible firm of Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap — Oh ! the very thought of them 
glued his lips together. There was 
one, however, of whom he might surely 
make a confidant — the excellent Huck- 
aback, with whom he had had no 
opportunity of communicating since 
Sunday night. That gentleman was 
as close a prisoner at the establishment 
of Diaper, and Sarsenet, in Totten- 
ham-court Road, as Titmouse at Messrs. 
Tag-rag's, of which said establishment 
he was as great an ornament as was 
Titmouse of that of Messrs. Tag-rag's. 
They were about the same height, and 
equals in puppyism of manners, dress, 
and appearance ; but Titmouse was 
much the better-looking. "With equal 
conceit apparent in their faces, that of 
Huckaback, square, and flat, and 
sallow, had an expression of ineffable 
impudence, that made a lady shudder, 
and a gentleman feel a tingling sensa- 
tion in his right toe. About his small 
black eyes there was a glimmer of low 
cunning ; — but he is not of sufficient 
importance to be painted any further. 
When Titmouse left the shop that 
night, a little after nine, he hurried to 
his lodgings, to make himself as im- 
posing in his appearance before Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, as his 
time and means would admit of. 
Behold, on a table lay a letter from 
Huckaback. It was written in a 
flourishing mercantile hand ; and here 
is a copy of it : — 

"Dear Tit, 

" I hope you are well, which is what 
I can only middling say in respect of 
me. Such a row with my governors as 
I have had to-day ! I thought that, 
as I had been in the House near upon 
Eighteen Months at £25 per annum, I 
might naturally ask for £30 a-year 
(.which is what my Predecessor had,) 
when, would you believe it, Mr. Sharp- 
eye (who is going to be taken in as a 
Partner, ) to whom I named the thing, 



40 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



ris up in rage against me, and I were 
had up into the counting-house, where 
both the governors was, and they gave 
it me in such a way that you never saw 
nor heard of.; but it wasn't all on their 
own side, as you know me too well to 
think of. You would have thought I 
had been a-going to rob the house. They 
said I was most oudacious, and all tlnv , 
and ungrateful, and what would I have 
next ? Mr. Diaper said times was come 
to such a pitch ! ! since when he was 
first in the business, for salaries, says 
he, is risen to double, and not half the 
work done that was, and no gratitude 
— (cursed old curmudgeon !) He said 
if I left them just now, I might whistle 
for a character, except one that I should 
not like ; but if he don't mind I'll give 
him a touch of law about that — which 
brings me to what happened to-day 
with our lawyers, Titty, the people at 
Saffron Hill, whom I thought I would 
call in on to-day, being near the neigh- 
bourhood with some light goods, to see 
how affairs was getting on, and stir 

them up a bit " 

This almost took Titmouse's breath 

away ■ 

— -"feeling most interested on your 
account, as you know, dear Tit, 1 do. 
I said I wanted to speak to one of the 
gentlemen on business of wital import- 
ance ; whereat I was quickly shown 
into a room where two gents was sit- 
ting. Having put down my parcel for 
a minute on the table, I said I was a 
very intimate friend of yours, and had 
called in to see how things went on 
about the advertisement ; whereat you 
never saw in your life how struck they 
looked, and stared at one another in 
speechless silence, till they said to me, 
what concerned me about the business ? 
or something of that nature, but in 
such a way that ris a rage in me 
directly, all for your sake (for I did 
not like the looks of things ;) and says 
I, I said, we would let them know we 
were not to be gammoned ; whereat up 
rose the youngest of the two, and ring- 
ing the bell, he says to a tight-laced 
young gentleman with a pen behind 
his ear, ' Show him to the door,' which 
I was at once ; but, in doing so, let out 
a little of my mind to them. They're 



no better than they should be, you see 
if they are ; but when we touch the 
property, we'll show them who is their 
masters, which consoles me. Good- 
bye, keep your sperrits up, and I will 
call and tell you more about it on 
Sunday. So farewell (I write this at 
Mr. Sharpeye's desk, who is coming 
down from dinner directly.) — Your 
true friend, 

" R. Huckaback. 

" P.S. — Met a young Jew last night 
with a lot of'prime cigars, and (know- 
ing he must have stole them, they 
looked so good at the price, ) I bought 
one shilling's worth for me, and two 
shillings' worth for you, your salary 
being higher, and to say nothing of 
your chances." 

All that part of the foregoing letter 
which related to its amiable writer's 
interview with Messrs. Quirk, Gam- 
mon, and Snap, Titmouse read in a 
kind of spasm — he could not draw a 
breath, and felt a choking sensation 
coming over him. After a while, "I 
may spare myself," thought he, "the 
trouble of rigging out — Huckaback has 
done my business for me with Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap — mine will 
only be a w..lk in vain ! " And this 
cursed call of Huckaback's, too, to 
have happened after what had oc- 
curred last night between Titmouse 
and them ! ! and so urgently as he had 
been enjoined to keep the matter to 
himself ! Of course, Huckaback would 
seem to have been sent by him ; seeing 
he appeared to have assumed the 
hectoring tone which Titmouse had 
tried so vainly overnight, and now so 
bitterly repented of; and he had no 
doubt grossly kuulted the arbiters of 
Titmouse's destiny (f _>r he knew Huck- 
aback's impudence),— he had even said 
that he (Titmouse) would not be gam- 
moned by them ! But time was press- 
ing—the experiment must be made ; 
and with a beating heart he scrambled 
into a change of- clothes — bottling up 
his wrath against the unconscious 
Huckaback till he should see that 
worthy. In a miserable state of mind 
he set off soon after for Saffron Hill afc 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEATl. 



41 



a quick pace, which soon became a 
trol, and often sharpened into a down- 
right run. Hu saw, heard, and thought 
of nothing, as he hurried along Oxford 
Street and Hoi bom, but Quirk, Gam- 
mon, Snap, and Huckaback, aid the 
reception which the latter might have 
secured for him — if, indeed, lie was to 
be received at all. The magical words, 
Ten Thousand a- Year, had not dis- 
appeared from the field of his troubled 
vision ; but how faintly and dimly 
they _ shone ! — like the Pleiades coldly 
glistening through intervening mists 
far off — oh ! at whit a stupendous, 
immeasurable, and hopeless distance ! 
Imagine those stars gazed at by the 
anguished and despairing eyes of the 
bereaved lover, madly believing one of 
them to contain her who has just 
departed from his arms, and from this 
world, and you may form a notion of 
the agonizing feelings — the absorbed 
contemplation of one dear, dazzling, 
but distant object, experienced on this 
occasion by Mr. Titmouse. No, no ; I 
don't mean seriously to pretend that 
so grand a thought as this could be 
entertained by his little optics intel- 
lectual ; you might as well supposj the 
tiny eye of a black beetle to be scan- 
ning the vague, fanciful, and mysteri- 
ous figure and proportions of Orion, or 
a chimpanzee to be perusing and pon- 
dering over the immortal Principia. 
I repeat, that I have no desire of the 
sort, and am determined not again 
foolishly to attempt fine writing, which 
I now perceive to be entirely out of my 
line. In language more befitting me 
and my subject, I may be allowed to 
say that there is no getting the con- 
tents of a quart into a pint pot ; that 
Titmouse's mind was a half-pint — and 
it was brimful. All the while that I 
have been going on thus, however, 
Titmouse was hurrying down Holborn 
at a rattling rate. When at length he 
had reached SalVron Hill, he was in a 
bath of perspiration. His face was 
quite red ; he breathed hard ; his heart 
beat violently ; he had got a stitch in 
his side ; and he could not get his 
gloves on his hot and swollen hands. 
He stood for a moment with his hat 
off, wiping liis reeking forehead, and 



endeavouringto recover himself a little, 
before entering the dreaded presence to 
which he had been hastening. He 
even fancied, for a moment, that his 
eyes gave out sparks of light ! While 
thus pausing, St. Andrew's Church 
struck ten, half electrifying Titmouse, 
who bolted up the hill, and was soon 
standing opposite the door. How the 
sight of it smote him, as it reminded 
him of the way in which, on the pre- 
ceding night, he had bounced out of 
it ! But that could not now be helped ; 
so ring went the bell ; as softly, how- 
ever, as he could ; for he recollected 
that it was a very loud bell, and he did 
not wish to offend. He stood for some 
time, and nobody answered. He waited 
for nearly two minutes, and trembled, 
assailed by a thousand vague fears. He 
might not, however, have rung loudly 
enough — so — again, a little louder, did 
he venture to ring. Again he waited. 
There seemed something threatening 
in the great brass plate on the door, 
out of which ' ' Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap " appeared to look at him omin- 
ously. While he thought of it, by the 
way, there was something very serious 
and stem in all their faces — he won- 
dered that he had not noticed it before. 
What a drunken beast he had been to 
go on in their presence as he had ! 
thought he ; then Huckaback's image 
flitted across his disturbed fancy. 
"Ah!" thought he, "that's the 
thing ! — that's it, depend upon it : 
this door will never be opened to me 
again — he's done fir me!" He breathed 
faster, clenched his fist, and involun- 
tarily raised it in a menacing way, when 
he heard himself addressed — "Oh! 
dear me, sir, I hope I haven't kept you 
waiting," said the old woman whom he 
had before seen, fumbling in her pocket 
for the door-key. She had been evi- 
dently out shopping, having a plate in 
her left hand, over which her apron 
was partially thrown. " Hope you've 
not been ringing long, sir ! " 

"Oh, dear! no, ma'am," replied 
Titmouse with anxious civility, and a 
truly miserable smile — " Afraid I may 
have kept them waiting," he added, 
almost dreading to hear the answer. 

"Oh no, sir, not at all — they've all 



42 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR, 



been gone since a little after nine ; but 
there's a letter I was to give you ! " 
She opened the door ; Titmouse nearly 
dropping with fright. " I'll get it for 
you, sir — let me see, where did I put 
it ? — Oh, in the clerk's room, I think." 
Titmouse followed her in. " Dear me 
— where can it be ? " she continued, 
peering about, and then snuffing the 
long wick of the candle which she had 
left burning for the last quarter of an 
hour, during her absence. "I hope 
none of the clerks has put it away in 
mistake ! Well, it isn't here, any- 
how." 

" Perhaps, ma'am, it's in their own 
room," suggested Titmouse, in a faint 
tone. 

"Oh, p'r'aps it is ! " she replied. 
"We'll go and see "• — and she led the 
way, followed closely by Titmouse, who 
caught his breath as he passed the 
green-baize door. Yes, there was the 
room — the scene of last night was 
transacted there, and came crowding 
over his recollection — there was the 
green-shaded candlestick — the table 
covered with papers — an arm-chair 
near it, in which, probably, Mr. Quirk 
had been sitting only an hour before 
to write the letter they were now in 
quest of, and which might be to for- 
bid him their presence for ever ! How 
dreary and deserted the room looked, 
thought he, as he peered about it in 
search of the dreaded letter ! 

" Oh, here it is ! — well, I never ! — 
who could have put it here, now ? I'm 
sure I didn't. Let me see — it was, no 
doubt" — said the old woman, holding 
the letter in one hand and putting the 
other to her head. 

"Never mind, ma'am," said Tit- 
mouse, stretching his hand towards 
her — " now we've got it, it don't much 
signify." She gave it to him. " Seem 
particularly anxious for me to get it — 
did they ? " he enquired, with a strong 
effort to appear unconcerned — the 
dreaded letter quite quivering, the 
while, in his fingers. 

' ' No, sir ■ — • Mr. Quirk only said I 
was to give it to you when you called. 
B'lieve they sent it to you, but the 
clerk said he couldn't find your place 
out ; by the way, (excuse me, sir,) but 



yours is a funny name ! How I heard 
'em laughing at it, to be sure ! What 
makes people give such queer names ? 
Would you like to read it here, sir ? — 
you're welcome." 

"No, thank you, madam — it's of 
not the least consequence," he replied, 
with a desperate air ; and tossing it 
with attempted carelessness into his 
hat, which he put on his head, he very 
civilly wished her good-night, and 
departed — very nearly inclined to sick- 
ness, or faintness, or something of the 
sort, which the fresh air might perhaps 
dispel. He quickly espied a lamp at a 
corner, which promised to afford him 
an uninterrupted opportunity of in- 
specting his letter. He took it out of 
his hat. It was addressed — simply, 
' ' Mr. Titmouse, Cocking Court, Oxford 
Street," (which accounted, perhaps, 
for the clerk's having been unable to 
find it ;) and having been opened with 
trembling eagerness, thus it read : — 

" Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap 
present their compliments to Mr. Tit- 
mouse, and are anxious to save him 
the trouble of his intended visit this 
evening. 

"They exceedingly regret that ob- 
stacles (which it is to be hoped, 
however, may not prove ultimately 
insurmountable) exist in the way of 
their prosecuting their intended en- 
quiries on behalf of Mr. Titmouse. 

"Since their last night's interview 
with him, circumstances, which they 
could not have foreseen, and over which 
they have no control, have occurred, 
which render it unnecessary for Mr. T. 
to give himself any more anxiety in 
the affair— at least, not until he shall 
have heard from Messrs. Q. G. and S. 

"If anything of importance should 
hereafter transpire, it is not improbable 
that Mr. T. may hear from them. 

" They were favoured, this afternoon, 
with a visit from Mr. T.'s friend — a 
Mr. Hucklebottom . 

" Saffron Hill, Wednesday Evening, 
12th July, 18— ." 

When poor Titmouse had finished 
reading over this vague, frigid, and 
disheartening note a second time a 



TEN" THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



43 



'■imvulsivo sob or two pierced his 
bosom, indicative of its being indeed 
swollen with sorrow ; and at length, 
overcome by his feelings, he cried 
bitterly — not checked even by the 
occasional exclamations of one or two 
passers-by. He could not at all con- 
trol himself. He felt as if he could 
have almost relieved himself, by bang- 
ing bis head against the wall ! A 
tumultuous feeling of mingled grief 
and despair prevented his thoughts, 
for a long while, from settling on any 
one idea or object. At length, when 
the violence of the storm had some- 
what abated, on concluding a third 
perusal of the death-warrant to all his 
hopes, which he held in his hand, his 
eye lit upon the strange word which 
was intended to describe his friend 
Huckaback ; and it instantly changed 
both the kind of his feelings, and the 
direction in which they had been 
rushing. Grief became rage ; and the 
stream foamed in quite a new direction 
— namely, towards Huckaback. That 
fellow he considered to be the sole 
cause of the direful disaster which had 
befallen him. He utterly lost sight of 
one circumstance, which one should 
have thought might have occurred to 
his thoughts at such a time— viz. his 
own offensive and insolent behaviour 
overnight to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap. But so it was : — yes, upon 
the devoted (but unconscious) head 
of Huckaback, was to descend the 
lightning rage of Tittlebat Titmouse. 
The fire that was thus quickly kindled 
within, soon dried up the source of his 
tears. He crammed the letter into his 
pocket, and started off at once in the 
direction of Leicester Square, breathing 
rage at every step — viresque acquirens 
eundo. His hands kept convulsively 
clenching together as he pelted along. 
Hotter and hotter became his rage, as 
he neared the residence of Huckaback. 
AVhen he had reached it, he sprung 
up-stairs ; knocked at his quondam 
friend's door ; and on the instant of 
its being — doubtless somewhat sur- 
prisedly — opened by Huckaback, who 
was undressing, Titmouse sprung to- 
wards him, let fly a goodly number of 
violent blows upon his face and breast 



— and down fell Huckaback upon the 
bed behind him, insensible, and bleed- 
ing profusely from his nose. 

" There ! there! " — gasped Titmouse, 
breathless and exhausted, discharging 
a volley of oaths and opprobrious 
epithets at the victim of his fury. 
" Do it again ! You will, won't you ! 
You'll go — and meddle again in other 
people's — you cu-cu-cursed offici- 
ous " — But his rage was spent — the 
paroxysm was over ; the silent and 
bleeding figure of Huckaback was 
before his eyes ; and he gazed at 
him, terror-stricken. "What had he 
done ! He sunk down on the bed 
beside Huckaback — then started up, 
wringing his hands, and staring at 
him in an ecstasy of remorse and fright. 
It was rather singular that the noise of 
such an assault should have roused no 
one to enquire into it ; but so it was. 
Frightened almost out of his bewildered 
senses, he closed and bolted the door ; 
and addressed himself, as well as he 
was able, to the recovery of Huckaback. 
Propping him up, and splashing cold 
water in his face, Titmouse at length 
discovered symptoms of revival, which 
he anxiously endeavoured to accelerate, 
by putting to the lips of the slowly 
awakening victim of his violence some 
cold water, in a tea-cup. He swallowed 
a little ; and soon afterwards, opening 
his eyes, stared on Titmouse with a 
dull eye and bewildered ah. 

"What's been the matter?" at 
length he faintly enquired. 

"Oh, Hucky ! so glad to hear you 
speak again. It's I — I — Titty ! I did 
it ! Strike me, Hucky, as soon as 
you're well enough ! Do — kick me — 
anything you choose ! I won't hinder 
you ! " cried Titmouse, sinking on his 
knees, and clasping his hands together, 
as he perceived Huckaback rapidly 
reviving. 

" Why, what is the matter ? " 
repeated that gentleman, with a won- 
dering air, raising his hand to his 
nose, from which the blood was still 
trickling. The fact is, that he had 
lost his senses, not so much from the 
violence of the injuries he had received, 
as from the suddenness with which 
they had been inflicted. 



44 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR 



" I did it all — yes, I did ! " continued 
Titmouse, gazing on him with a look 
of agony and remorse. 

" Why, I can't be awake — I can't ! " 
said Huckaback, rubbing his eyes, and 
then staring at his stained shirt-front 
and hands. 

" Oh, yes, you are — you are ! " 
groaned Titmouse; "and I'm going 
mad as fast as I can ! Do what you 
like to me ! Lick me if you please ! 
Call in a constable ! Send me to jail ! 
Say I came to rob you — anything — I 
don't care what becomes of me ! " 

"Why, what does all this jabber 
mean, Titmouse ? " enquired Hucka- 
back sternly, apparently meditating 
reprisals. 

" Oh, yes, I see ! Now you are going 
to give it me ! I won't stir. So hit 
away, Hucky." 

"Why — are you mad?" enquired 
Huckaback, grasping him by the collar 
rather roughly. 

" Yes, quite ! Mad ! ■ — ruined ! — 
gone to the devil all at once ! " 

" And what if you are ? What did 
it matter to me ? What brought you 
to me, here ? " continued Huckaback, 
in a tone of increasing vehemence. 
"What have I done to offend you ? 
How dare you come here? And at 
this time of night, too ? Eb ? " 

" What, indeed ! Oh lud, oh lud, 
oh lud ! Kick me, I say — strike me ! 
You'll do me good, and bring me to 
my senses. Me to do all this to you ! 
And we've been such precious good 
friends always. I'm a brute, Hucky 
■ — I've been mad, stark mad, Hucky — 
and that's all I can say." 

Huckaback stared at him more and 
more ; and began at length to suspect 
how matters stood — namely, that the 
Sunday's incident had turned Tit- 
mouse's head — he having also, no 
doubt, heard some desperate bad news 
during the day, smashing all his hopes. 
A mixture of emotions kept him silent. 
Astonishment — apprehension — doubt 
• — pride — pique — resentment. He had 
been struck — his blood had been drawn 
—by the man there before him on his 
knees, formerly his friend ; now, he 
supposed, a madman. 

"Why, curse me, Titmouse, if I 



can make up my mind what to do to 
you.! " he exclaimed. " I — I suppose 
you're going luad, or gone mad, and I 
must forgive you. But get away with 
you — out with you, or— or — I'll call 
in " 

' ' Forgive me — forgive me, dear 
Huchy ! Don't send me away— I shall 
k'o and drown myself if you do." 

' ' What the d — 1 do I care if you do ? 
You'd much better have gone and done 
it before you came here. Nay, be off 
and do it now, instead of blubbering 
here in this way." 

" Go on ! Hit away — it's doing me 
good — the worse the better ! " sobbed 
Titmouse. 

' ' Come, come — none of this noise 
here. I'm tired of it. " 

" But, pray, don't send me away 
from you. I shall go straight to the 
devil if you do. I've no friend but 
you, Hucky. Yet I've been such a 
villain to you ! — But it quite put the 
devil into me, when all of a sudden I 
found it was you." 

" Me ! — Why, what are you after ? " 
interrupted Huckaback, with an air of 
angry wonder. 

"Oh dear, dear!" groaned Tit- 
mouse ; "if I've been a brute to you, 
which is quite true, you've been the 
ruin of me clean ! J 'm clean done for, 
Huck. Cleaned out ! You've done 
my business for me ; knocked it all on 
the head. I sha'n't never hear any 
more of it — they've said as much in 
their letter — they say that you've 
called — — " 

Huckaback now began to have a 
glimmering notion of his having been, 
in some considerable degree, connected 
with the mischief of the day— an un- 
conscious agent in it. He audibly 
drew in his breath, as it were, as he 
more and more distinctly recollected 
his visit to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap ; and adverted more particu- 
larly to his threats, uttered, too, in 
Titmouse's name, and as if by his 
authority. Whew ! here was a kettle 
of fish. 

Now, strange and unaccountable as, 
at first thought, it may appear, the 
very circumstance which one would 
have thought calculated to assuage his 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



4f> 



resentment against Titmouse* — namely, 
that he had really injured Titinowie 
most seriously, (if not indeed irre- 
parably,) and so provoked the drubbing 
which had just been administered to 
him — had quite the contrary effect. 
Paradoxical as it may seem, matter of 
clear mitigation was at once converted 
into matter of aggravation. Were the 
feelings which Huckaback then experi- 
enced akin to that which often pro- 
duces hatred of a person whom one has 
injured ? May it be thus accounted 
for ? That there is a secret satisfaction 
in the mere, consciousness of being a 
sufferer — a martyr — and that, too, in 
the presence of a person whom one 
perceives to be aware that he has 
wantonly injured one ; that one's 
bruised spirit is soothed by the sight 
of his remorse — by the consciousness 
that he is punishing himself infinitely 
more severely than we could punish 
him ; and of the claim one has obtained 
to the sympathy of everybody who sees, 
or may hear of one's sufferings, (that 
rich and grateful balm to injured feel- 
ing.) But when, as in the case of 
Huckaback, feelings of this description 
(in a coarse and small way, to be sure, 
according to his kind) were suddenly 
encountered by a consciousness of his 
having deserved his sufferings ; when 
the martyr felt himself quickly sinking 
into the culprit and offender ; when, 
I say, Huckaback felt an involuntary 
consciousness that the gross indignities 
which Titmouse had just inflicted on 
him, had been justified by the provo- 
cation — nay, far less than his mis- 
chievous and impudent interference 
had deserved ; — and when feelings of 
this sort, moreover, were sharpened 
by a certain tingling sense of physical 
pain from the blows which he had 
received — the result was, that the 
sleeping lion of Huckaback's courage 
was very near awakening. 

" Tve half a mind, Titmouse" — said 
Huckaback, knitting his brows, and 
appearing inclined to raise his arm. 
There was an ominous pause for a 
moment or two, during which Tit- 
mouse's feelings also underwent a 
slight alteration. His allusion to 
Huckaback's ruinous insult to Messrs. 



Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, uncon- 
sciously converted his remorse into 
rage, which it rather, perhaps, resusci- 
tated. He rose from his knees. "Ah!" 
said he, in quite an al'ered tone, "you 
may look fierce ! you may ! — you'd 
better strike me, Huckaback — do ! 
Finish the mischief you've begun this 
day! Hit away — you're quite safe," 
— and he secretly prepared himself for 
the mischief which — did not come. 

" You have ruined me ! you have, 
Huckaback ! " continued Titmouse, 
with increasing vehemence ; " and I 
shall be cutting my throat — nay," 
striking his fist on the table, " I will ! " 

"You don't say so!" exclaimed 
Huckaback, apprehensively. "No, 
Titmouse, don't — don't think of it ; it 
will all come right yet, depend on't ; 
you see if it don't ! " 

" Oh, no ! it's all done for — it's all 
up with me ! " 

"But what's been done? — let us 
hear," said Huckaback, as he passed a 
wet towel to and fro over his ensan- 
guined features. It was by this time 
clear that the storm which had for 
some time given out only a few faint 
fitful flashes or flickerings in the dis- 
tance, had passed away. Titmouse, 
with many grievous sighs, took out 
the letter which had produced the 
paroxysms I have been describing, and 
read it aloud. "And only see how 
they've spelled your name, Huckaback 
■ — look ! " he added, handing his friend 
the letter. 

' 'How particular vulgar ! " exclaimed 
Huckaback, with a contemptuous air, 
which, overspreading his features, half- 
closed as was his left eye, and swollen 
as were his cheek and nose, would have 
made him a queer object to one who 
had leisure to observe such matters. 
"And so this is all they say of me," 
he continued. "How do you come to 
know that I've been doing you a mis- 
chief? All I did was just to look in, 
as respectful as possible, to ask how 
you was, and they very civilly told 
me you was very well, and we 
parted " 

"Nay, now, that's a lie, Huckaback, 
and you know it ! " interrupted Tit- 
mouse. 



46 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



" It's true, so help me ! " vehe- 
mently asseverated Huckaback. 

"Why, perhaps you'll deny that 
you wrote and told me all you said," 
interrupted Titmouse indignantly, feel- 
ing in his pocket for Huckaback's 
letter, which that worthy had at the 
moment quite forgotten having sent, 
and certainly seemed rather nonplussed 
on being reminded of. 

" Oh — ay, if you mean that, — hem ! " 
— he stammered. 

' ' Come, you know you're a liar, 
Huck — but it's no good now : liar or 
no liar, it's all over." 

" The pot and kettle, anyhow, Tit, 
as far as that goes — but let's spell over 
this letter ; we haven't studied it yet ; 
I'm a hand, rather, at getting at what's 
said in a letter! — Come" — and they 
drew their chairs together, Huckaback 
reading over the letter slowly, alone ; 
Titmouse's eyes travelling incessantly 
from his friend's countenance to the 
letter, and so back again, to gather 
what might be the effect of its perusal. 

"There's a glimpse of daylight yet, 
Titty ! " said Huckaback, as he con- 
cluded reading it. 

"Now! Is there really? Do tell 
me, Hucky " 

"Why, first and foremost, how un- 
common polite they are, (except that 
they haven't manners enough to spell 
my name right) " 

"Really — and so they are!" ex- 
claimed Titmouse, rather elatedly. 

" And then, you see, there's another 
thing— if they'd meant to give the 
thing the go-by altogether, what could 
have been easier than to have said so ? 
— but they haven't said anything of 
the sort, so they don't mean to give it 
all up." 

' ' Lord, Huck ! what would I give 
for such a head as yours ! What you 
say is quite true," said Titmouse, still 
more cheerfully. 

" To be sure, they do say there's an 
obstacle — an obstacle, you see — nay, it's 
obstacles, which is several, and that " 
Titmouse's face fell. 

" But they say again, that it's — it's 
— curse their big words — they say it's 
— to be got over in time." 

' ' Well— that's something, isn't it ? " 



"To be sure it is ; and a'n't any- 
thing better than nothing ? But then, 
again, here's a stone in the other 
pocket — they say there's a circum- 
stance ! — Don't you hate circumstances, 
Titty?— I do." 

"So do I ! — What does it mean? 
I've often heard — isn't it a thing? 
And that may be — anything." 

"Oh, there's a great dif — hem! 
And they go on to say it's happened 
since you was there " 

" Curse me, then, if that don't mean 
you, Huckaback ! " interrupted Tit- 
mouse, with returning anger. 

"No, that can't be it; they said 
they'd no control over the circum- 
stance ; — now they had, over me ; for 
they ordered me to the door, and I 
went ; a'n't that so, Titty ? — Lord, 
how my eye does smart, to be sure ! " 

"And don't I smart all over, inside 
and out, if it come to that ? " enquired 
Titmouse dolefully. 

"There's nothing particular in the 
rest of the letter — only uncommon 
civil, and saying if anything turns up 
you shall hear." 

' ' i" could make that out myself — so 
there's nothing in that" — said Tit- 
mouse quickly. 

" Well — if it is all over — what a 
pity ! Such things as we could have 
done, Titty, if we'd got the thing — 
eh ? " 

Titmouse groaned at this glimpse of 
the heaven he seemed shut out of for 
ever. 

' ' Can't you find anything — nothing 
at all comfortable-like, in the letter ? " 
he enquired with a deep sigh. 

Huckaback again took up the letter 
and spelled it over. " Well," said he, 
striving to give himself an appearance 
of thinking, "there's something in it 
that, after all, I don't seem quite to 
get to the bottom of— they've seem- 
ingly taken a deal of pains with it." 

[And undoubtedly it was a document 
that had been pretty well considered 
by its framers before being sent out ; 
though, probably, they had hardly 
anticipated its being so soon after- 
wards subjected to the scrutiny of 
the acute intellects which were now 
engaged upon it.] 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



"And then, again, you know they 
are lawyers ; and do they ever write 
anything that hasn't got more in it 
than anybody can find out ? These 
gents that wrote this, they're a trick 
too keen for the thieves even — and 
how can we — hem ! — but I wonder if 
that fat, old, bald-headed gent, with 
sharp eyes, was Mr. Quirk " 

"To be sure it was," interrupted 
Titmouse, with a half shudder. 

"Was it ? Well, then, I'd advise 
Old Nick to look sharp before he 
tackles that old gent, that's all ! " 

"Give me Mr. Gammon for my 
money — such an uncommon gentle- 
manlike — he's quite taken to me " 

' ' Ah, that, 1 suppose, was him with 
the black velvet waistcoat and white 
hands ! But he can look stern, too, 
Tit ! You should have seen him ring, 
when — hem ! — But what was I saying 
about the letter ? Don't you see they 
say they'll be sure to write if anything 
turns up ? " 

"So they do, to be sure ! Well — 
I'd forgot that!" interrupted Tit- 
mouse, brightening up. 

"Then, isn't there their advertise- 
ment in the Flash ? They hadn't their 
eye on anything when they put it 
there, I dare say ! — They can't get out 
of that, anyhow ! " 

" I begin to feel all of a sweat, 
Hucky ; I'm sure there's something 
in the wind yet ! " said Titmouse, 
drawing nearer still to his comforter. 
"And more than that — would they 
have said half they did to me last 
night " 

" Eh ! hollo, by the way ! I've not 
heard of what went on last night ! So 
you went to 'em ? Well — tell us all 
that happened — and nothing but the 
truth, besiweyou don't ; come, Titty ! " 
said Huckaback, snuffing the candle, 
and then turning eagerly to his com- 
panion. 

"Well — they'd such a number of 
queer-looking papers before them, some 
with old German-text writing, and 
others with zig-zag marks — and they 
were so uncommon polite — they all 
three got up as I went in, and made 
me bows, one after the other, and said, 
'Yours most obediently, Mr. Tit- 



mouse,' and a great many more such 

things." 

"Well— and then?" 

' ' Why, Hucky, so help me ! 

and 'pon my soul, that old gent, Mr. 
Quirk, told me" — Titmouse's voice 
trembled at the recollection — "he 
says, ' Sir, you're the real owner of 
Ten Thousand a- year.' " 

" Lawks ! " ejaculated Huckaback, 
opening wider and wider his eyes and 
ears as his friend went on. 

' ' ' And a title — a lord, or something 
of that sort — and you've a great 
many country seats ; and there's been 
£10,000 a- year saving up for you ever 
since you was born — and heaps of 
interest.' " 

"Lord, Tit! you take my breath 
away," gasped Huckaback, his eyes 
fixed intently on his friend's face. 

" Yes ; and they said I might marry 
the most beautifulest woman that ever 
my eyes saw, for the asking." 

"You'll forget poor Bob Huck- 
aback, Tit ! " murmured his friend 
despondingly. 

"Not I " 

' ' Have you been to Tag-rag's to- 
day, after hearing all this ? " 

[The thermometer seemed to have 
been plunged out of hot water into 
cold — Titmouse was down to zero in a 
trice.] 

"Oh!— that's it! 'Tis all gone 
again ! What a fool I am ! We've 
clean forgot this cursed letter — and 
that leads me to the end of what took 
place last night. That cursed shop 
was what we split on ! " 

"Split on the shop ! eh ? What's 
the meaning of that ?" enquired Huck- 
aback, with eager anxiety. 

"Why, that's the thing," continued 
Titmouse, in a faltering tone, and with 
a depressed look — "That was what I 
wanted to know myself ; for they said 
I'd better go back ! ! So I said, ' Gents,' 

said I, ' I'll be if I'll go back to 

the shop any more ; ' and 1 snapped 
my fingers at them — so ! (for you know 
what a chap I am when my blood's 
up.) And they all turned gashly 
pale — they did, upon my life — you 
never saw anything like it ! And one 
of them said then, in a humble way. 



48 



TEX THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



'Wouldn't I please to go back to the 
shop, just for a day or two, till things is 
got to rights a bit. ' ' Xot a day nor a 
minute ! ' says I, in an immense rage. 
'We think you'd better, really,' said 
they. 'Then,' says I, 'if that's your 
plan, curse me if I won't cut with you 
all, and I'll employ some one else ! ' 
and — would you believe me ? — out I 
went, bang ! into the street !! " 

"You did, Tit!!" 

" They shouldn't have given me so 
much brandy and water a 5 they did ; I 
didn't well know what I was about, 
what with the news and the s[ irits ! " 

"And you went into the street?" 
enquired Huckaback, with a kind of 
horror. 

"I did, indeed." 

"They'd given you the sperrits to 
see what kind of a chap you'd be if 
you got the property — only to try you, 
depend on it ! " 

" Lord ! I — I dare say they did '. ' J 
exclaimed Titmouse, elevating h : .s head 
with sudden amazement ; totally for- 
getting that that same brandy and 
water he had asked for — "and me 
never to think of it at the time ! " 

" Xow are you quite sure you wasn't 
in a dream last night, all the while ? " 

" Oh, dear, I wish I had been — I do, 
indeed, Hucky ! " 

"Well — you went into the street — 
what then?" enquired Huckaback, 
with a sigh of exhausted attention. 

"Why, when I'd got there, I was 
fit to bite my tongue off, as one may 
suppose ; but, just as I was a-turning 
to go in again, who should come up 
to me but Mr. Gammon, saying, he 
humbly hoped there was no offence.'' 

"Oh, glorious! So it was ail set 
right again, then — eh 1 " 

" Why — I — I can't quite exactly say 
that much, either — but — when I went 
back, (being obligated by Mr. Gammon 
being so pressing,) the other two was 
sitting as pale as death ; and though 
Mr. Gammon and me went on our knees 
to the old gent, it wasn't any use for a 
long time ; and all that he could be got 
to say was, that perhaps I might look in 
again to-night — (but they first made 
me swear a solemn oath on the Bible 
never to tell any one anything about 



the fortune) — and then — you went, 
Huckaback, and you did the business ; 
they of course concluding I'd sent 
you ! ' ' 

■ " Oh, bother ! that can't be. Don't 
yon see how civilly they speak of me 
in their letter ■ They're afraid of me, 
you may depend on it. By the way, 
Tit, how much did you promise to 
come down, if you got the thing ? " 

" Comedo'tim ' — I — really — by Jove, 
I didn't ! Xo — I'm sure I didn't ! " — 
answered Titmouse, as if new light 
had burst in upon him. 

" Why, Tit, I never seed such a 
goose : That's it, depend upon it — 
it's the whole thing ! That's what 
they re driving at, in the note ! — 
Why, Tit, where was your wits ■ D'ye 
think such gents as them — great law- 
yers, too — will work for nothing ] — 
You write and tell them you will come 
down handsome — say a couple of 
hundreds, besides expenses — Gad! 
'twill set you on your pins again, 
Titty !— Bot me ! now I think of it, 
if I didn't dream las' night that yon 
was a Member of Parliament or some- 
thing of that sort." 

' ' A Member of Parliament ! And 
so I shall, if all this turns up well " 

"You see if my dream don't come 
true! You see, Titty, I'm alicay's 
a-thinking of you, day and night. 
!N ever was two fellows that was such 
close friends as we was from the begin- 
ning." 

[They had been acquainted with 
each other about a year.] 

" Hucky, what a cruel scamp I was 
to behave to you in the way I did — 
curse me, if I couldn't cry to see your 
eye bunged up in that way ! " 

"Pho! dear Titty, I knew you 
loved me all the while — and meant no 
harm ; you wasn't yourself when yon 
did it — and besides, I deserved ten 
times more. If you had killed me I 
should have liked you as much as 
ever ! " 

' ' Give us your hand, Hucky ! Let's 
forgive one another ! " cried Titmouse 
excitedly : and their hands were 
quickly locked together. 

" If we don't mismanage the thing, 
we shall be all right yet, Titty ; but 



TEN THOUSAND A- YE A It. 



4!) 



you -won't do anything without speak- 
ing to mo li ist — will you, Titty ? " 

" The thoughts of it all going right 
again is enough to set me wild, Hucky ! 
— But what shall we do to set the 
thing going again ? " 

" Quart, r past one .' " quivered the 
voice of the paralytic watchman be- 
neath, startling the friends out of 
their excited colloquy ; his warning 
being at the same time silently 
seconded by tho long-wicked candle, 
burning within half an inch of its 
socket. They hastily agreed that Tit- 
mouse should immediately write to 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, a 
proper [i.e. a most abject] letter, 
solemnly pledging himself to obey 
their injunctions in everything for 
the future, and offering them a hand- 
some reward for their exertions, if 
successful. 

" Well — good-night, Huck ! good- 
night," said Titmouse, rising. " I'm 
not the least sleepy — I sha'n't sleep a 
wink all. night long ! I shall sit up 
to write my letter — you haven't got a 
sheet of paper here, by the way ? — 
I've used all mine." [That was, he 
had, some months before, bought . a 
sheet to write a letter, and had so 
used it.] 

Huckaback produced a sheet, some- 
what crumpled, from a drawer. " I'd 
give a hundred if I had them ! " said 
he; "I sha'n't care a straw for tho 
hiding I've got to-night — though I'm 
a leetle sore after it, too — and what 
the deuce am 1 to say to-morrow to 

Messrs. Diaper " 

" Oh, you can't hardly be at a loss 
for a lie that'll suit them, surely ! — So 
good-night, Hucky — good-night ! " 

Huckaback wrung his friend's hand, 
and was in a moment or two alone. 
" Haven't my fingers been itching all 
the while to be at the fellow ! " ex- 
claimed he, as he shut the door. 
" But, somehow, I've got too soft a 
sperrit, and can't bear to hurt any 
one ; — and then — if the chap gets his 
£10,000 a-year — why— hem ! Titty 
a'n't such a bad fellow, in the main, 
after all." 

If Titmouse had been many degrees 
higher in the grade of society, he 



imiUd still have met with his Hucka- 
!.ack ;— a triile more polished, perhaps, 
but hardly more quieksightcd or 
effective than, in his way, had been 
the vulgar being lie had just quitted. 

Titmouse hastened homeward. How 
it was he knew not ; but the feelings 
of elation with which he had quitted 
Huckaback did not last long ; they 
rapidly sunk in the cold ' night-air, 
lower and lower, the further ho got 
from Leicester Square. He tried to 
recollect what it was that had made 
him take so very different a view of 
his affairs from that with which he 
had entered Huckaback's room. He 
had still a vague impression that they 
were not desperate ; that Huckaback 
had told him so, and somehow proved 
it ; but how he now knew not — he 
could not recollect. As Huckaback 
had gone on from time to time, Tit- 
mouse's little mind seemed to him to 
comprehend and appreciate what was 
said, and to gather encouragement 
from it ; but now — consume it ! — he 
stopped — rubbed his forehead — what 
the deuce was it ? By the time that 
he had reached his own door, he felt 
in as deplorable and despairing a 
humour as ever. He sat down to 
write his letter at once ; but, after 
many vain efforts to express his mean- 
ing — his feelings being not in the least 
degree relieved by the many oaths he. 
uttered — he at length furiously dashed 
his pen, point-wise, upon the table, 
and thereby destroyed the only imple- 
ment of the sort which he possessed. 
Then he tore, rather than pulled off; 
his clothes ; blew out his candle with 
a furious puff! and threw himself on 
his bed — but in so doing banged the 
back of his head against the back of 
the bed — and which suffered most, for 
some time after, probably Mr. Tit- 
mouse was best able to tell. 

Hath, then — oh, Titmouse ! fated 
to undergo much ! — the blind jacu; 
Fortune, in her mad vagaries — she, 
the goddess whom thou hast so long 
foolishly worshipped — at length cast 
her sportful eye upon thee, and singled 
thee out to become the envy of mil- 
lions of admiring fools, by reason of 
the pranks she will presently make 

E 



50 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



thee exhibit for her amusement ? If 
this be indeed, as at present it 
promises, her intent, she truly, to me 
calmly watching her movements, ap- 
pears resolved first to wreak her spite 
upon thee to the uttermost, and make 
thee pass through intense sufferings ! 
Oh me ! Oh me ! Alas ! 



CHAPTER III. 

The means by which Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap became possessed 
of the important information which 
put them into motion, as we have 
seen, to find out by advertisement one 
yet unknown to them, it will not be 
necessary, for some time — and which 
will prove to have originated in a 
very remarkable accident — for me to 
explain. Theirs was a keen house, 
truly, and dealing principally in the 
criminal line of business ; and they 
would not, one may be sure, have 
lightly committed themselves to their 
present extent, namely, in inserting 
such an advertisement in the news- 
papers, and, above all, going so far in 
their disclosures to Titmouse. Their 
prudence in the latter step, however, 
was very questionable to themselves 
even ; and they immediately after- 
wards deplored together the precipita- 
tion with which Mr. Quirk had com- 
municated to Titmouse the nature and 
extent of his possible good fortune. 
It was Mr. Quirk's own doing, how- 
ever, and after as much expostulation 
as the cautious Gammon could venture 
to use. I say they had not lightly 
taken up the affair ; they had not 
"acted unadvisedly." They were 
fortified, first, by the opinions of Mr. 
Mortmain, an able and experienced 
conveyancer, who thus wound up an 
abstrusely learned opinion on the 
voluminous " case " which had been 
submitted to him : — 

" * * Under all these circumstances,' 
and assuming as above, I am decidedly 
of opinion that the title to the estate 



in question is at this moment not in 
their present possessor, (who repre- 
sents the younger branch of the 
Dreddlington family,) but in the 
descendants of Stephen Dreddlington, 
through the female line ; which brings 
us to Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse. 
This person, however, seems not to 
have been at all aware of the existence 
of his rights, or he could hardly have 
been concerned in the pecuniary 
arrangements mentioned at fol. 33 of 
the case. Probably something may 
be heard of his heir by making careful 
enquiry in the neighbourhood where 
he was last heard of, and issuing 
advertisements for his heir-at-law ; 
care, of course, being taken not to be 
so specific in the terms of such 
advertisements as to attract the notLe 
of A. B., (the party now in posses- 
sion.) If such person should, by the 
means above suggested, be discovered, 
I advise proceedings to be commenced 
forthwith, under the advice of some 
gentleman of experience at the com- 
mon-law bar. 

"Mouldy Mortmain. 

"Lincoln's Inn, 

January 19, 18 — ." 

This was sufficiently gratifying to 
the "house ;" but, to make assurance 
doubly sure, before embarking in so 
harassing and expensive an enterprise 
— one which lay a good deal, too, 
without the sphere of their practice, 
which, as already mentioned, was 
chiefly in criminal law — the same case 
(without Mr. Mortmain's opinion) was 
laid before a younger conveyancer, 
who, having much less business than 
Mr. Mortmain, would, it was thought, 
"look into the case fully," though re- 
ceiving only one-third of the fee which 
had been paid to Mr. Mortmain. And 
Mr. Pussy Frankpledge— that was 
his name — did "look into the case 
fully ; " and in doing so, turned over 
two-thirds of his little library ; — and 
also gleaned — by note and verbally — 
the opinions upon the subject of some 
half-dozen of his "learned friends;" 
to say nothing of the magnificent air 
with which he indoctrinated his eager 
and confiding pupils upon the subject. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



51 



At length his imp of a clerk bore the 
precious result of his master's labours 
to Saffron Hill, in the shape of an 
"opinion, " three times as long as, and 
indescribably more difficult to under- 
stand than, the opinion of Mr. Mort- 
main ; and which, if it demonstrated 
anything beyond the prodigious cram 
which had been undergone by its writer 
for the purpose of producing it, demon- 
strated this — namely, that neither the 
party indicated by Mr. Mortmain, nor 
the one then actually in possession, 
had any more right to the estate than 
the aforesaid Mr. Frankpledge ; but 
that the happy individual so entitled 
was some third person. Messrs. Quirk 
and Gammon, a good deal flustered 
hereat, hummed and hawed on perus- 
ing these contradictory opinions of 
counsel learned in the law ; and the 
proper result followed — i. e. a "con- 
sultation," which was to solder up 
all the differences between Mr. Mort- 
main and Mr. Frankpledge, or, at all 
events, strike out some light which 
might guide their clients on their 
adventurous way. 

Now, Mr. Mortmain had been Mr. 
Quirk's conveyancer (whenever such 
a functionary's services had been re- 
quired) for about twenty years ; and 
Quirk was ready to suffer death in 
defence of any opinion of Mr. Mort- 
main. Mr. Gammon swore by Frank- 
pledge, who had been at school with 
him, and was a "rising man." Mort- 
main belonged to the old school — 
Frankpledge steered by the new lights. 
The former could point to some forty 
cases in the Law Reports, which had 
been ruled in conformity with his pre- 
viously given opinion, and some twenty 
which had been overruled thereby ; 
the latter gentleman, although he had 
been only five years in practice, had 
written an opinion which had led to a 
suit — which had ended in a difference 
of opinion between the Court of King's 
Bench and the Common Pleas ; the 
credit of having done which was, how- 
ever, some time afterward, a little bit 
tarnished by the decision of a Court of 
Error, without hearing the other side, 
agrt iit.it the opinion of Mr. Frankpledge. 
But ■ 



Mr. Frankpledge quoted so many 
eases, and went to the bottom of every- 
thing, and gave so much for his money 
— and was so civil ! — 

Well, the consultation came off, at 
length, at Mr. Mortmain's chambers, 
at eight o'clock in the evening. A 
few minutes before that hour, Messrs. 
Quirk and Gammon were to be seen in 
the clerk's room, in civil conversation 
with that prim functionary, who ex- 
plained to them that he did all Mr. 
Mortmain's drafting — pupils were so 
idle ; that Mr. Mortmain did not s core 
out much of what he (the aforesaid 
clerk) had drawn ; that he noted up 
Mr. Mortmain's new cases for him in 
the reports, Mr. M. having so little 
time ; and that the other day the Vice 
Chancellor called on Mr. Mortmain — 
with several other matters of that sort, 
calculated to enhance the importance 
of Mr. Mortmain ; who, as the clerk 
was asking Mr. Gammon, in a good- 
natured way, how long Mr. Frank- 
pledge had been in practice, and 
where his chambers were — made his 
appearance, with a cheerful look and 
a bustling gait, having just walked 
down from his house in Queen's Square, 
with a comfortable bottle of old port 
on board. Shortly afterwards Mr. 
Frankpledge arrived, followed by his 
little clerk, bending beneath two bags 
of books, (unconscious bearer of as 
much law as had well-nigh split thou- 
sands of learned heads, and broken 
tens of thousands of hearts, in the 
making of, being destined to have a 
similar but far greater effect in the 
applying of,) and the consultation 
began. 

As Frankpledge entered, he could 
not help casting a sheep's eye towards 
a table that glistened with such an 
array of "papers," (a tasteful arrange- 
ment of Mr. Mortmain's clerk before 
every consultation ;) and down sat 
the two conveyancers and the two 
attorneys. I devoutly wish I had 
time to describe the scene at length ; 
but greater events are pressing upon 
me. The two conveyancers fenced 
with one another for some time 
very guardedly and good-humour- 
edly ; pleasant was it to observe the 
e a 



52 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



conscious condescension of Mortmain, 
the anxious energy and volubility of 
Frankpledge. When Mr. Mortmain 
said anything that seemed weighty 
or pointed. Quirk looked with an 
elated air, a quick triumphant glance, 
at Gammon ; who, in his turn, when- 
ever Mr. Frankpledge quoted an ' ' old 
case " from Bendloe, Godsbolt, or the 
Year Books, (which, having always 
piqued himself on his almost exclu- 
sive acquaintance with the modern 
cases, he made a point of doing,) 
gazed at Quirk with a smile of placid 
superiority. Mr. Frankpledge talked 
almost the whole time ; Mr. Mort- 
main, immovable in the view of the 
case which he had taken in his 
"opinion," listened with an atten- 
tive, good-natured air, ruminating 
pleasantly the while upon the qua- 
lity of the port he had been drink- 
ing, (the first of the bin which he 
had tasted) and upon the decision 
which the Chancellor might come to 
on a case brought into court on his 
advice, and which had fcen argued 
that afternoon. At last Frankpledge 
unwittingly fell foul of a favourite 
crotchet of Mortmain's — and at it 
they went, hammer and tongs, for 
nearly twenty minutes, (it had no- 
thing whatever to do with the case 
they were consulting upon.) In the 
end, Mortmain of course adhered 
to his points, and Frankpledge en- 
trenched himself in his books ; each 
slightly yielded to the views of the 
other on immaterial points, (or what 
could have appeared the use of the 
consultation ?) but did that which 
both had resolved upon doing from 
the first, i. e. sticking to his origi- 
nal opinion. Both had talked an 
amazing deal of deep law, which 
had at least one effect, viz. it fairly 
drowned both Quirk and Gammon, 
who as they went home, with not 
(it must be owned) the clearest per- 
ceptions in the world of what had 
been going on, (though, before going 
to the consultation, each had really 
known something about the case,) 
stood each stoutly by his convey- 
ancer's opinion, each protesting that 
he had sever been: once misled — 



Quirk by Mortmain, or Gammon by 
Frankpledge — and each resolved to 
give his man more of the convey- 
ancing business of the house than he 
had before. I grieve to add, that 
they parted that night with a trifle 
less of cordiality than had been their 
wont. , In the morning, however, this 
little irritation and competition had 
passed away ; and they agreed, before 
giving up the case, to take the final 
opinion of Mr. Teesayle — the great 
Mr. Tresayle. He was, indeed, a 
wonderful conveyancer — a perfect 
miraele of real-property law-learning. 
He had had such an enormous prac- 
tice for forty-five years, that for the 
last ten he had never put his nose 
out of chambers for pure want of 
time, and at last of inclination ; and 
had been so conversant with Norman 
French and law Latin, in the old 
English letter, that he had almost 
entirely forgotten how to write the 
modern English character. His opin- 
ions made their appearance in three 
different kinds of handwriting. First, 
one that none but he and his <_ld clerk 
could make out ; secondly, one that 
no::e but he himself could, read; and 
thirdly, one that neither he, nor his 
clerk, nor any one on earth, could de- 
cipher. The use of any one of these 
styles depended on — the difficulty of 
the case to be answered. If it were 
an easy one, the answer was very 
judiciously put into No. I. ; if rather 
difficult, it, of course, went into No. 
II.; and if exceedingly difficult, (and 
also important,) it was very properly 
thrown into No. III. ; being a ques- 
tion that really ought not to have 
been asked, and did not deserve an 
answer. The fruit within these un- 
couth shells, however, was precious. 
Mr. Tresayle's law was supreme over 
everybody's else. It was currently 
reported that Lord Eldon even (who 
was himself slightly acquainted with 
such subjects) reverently deferred to 
the authority of Mr. Tresayle ; and 
would lie winking and knitting his 
shaggy eyebrows half the night, if 
he thought that Mr. Tresayle's opin- 
ion on a ease and his own differed. 
This was the great authority to whom, 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



53 



as in the last resort, Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap resolved to appeal. 
To his chambers they, within a day or 
two after their consultation at Mr. 
Mortmain's, dispatched their case, 
wilh a highly respectable fee, and 
a special compliment to his clerk, 
hoping to hear from that awful quar- 
ter within a month. — which was the 
earliest average period within which 
Mr. Tresayle's opinions found their 
way to his patient but anxious clients. , 
It came at length, with a note from 
Mr. Prim, his clerk, intimating that 
they would find him, i. c. the afore- 
said Mr. Prim, at his chambers the 
next morning, prepared to explain 
the opinion to them ; having just had 
it read over to him by Mr. Tresayle, 
for it proved to be in No. II. The 
opinion occupied about two pages ; 
and the handwriting bore a strong 
resemblance to Chinese or Arabic, 
with a quaint intermixture of the 
uncial Greek character — it was im- 
possible to contemplate it without a 
certain feeling of awe ! In vain did 
old Quirk squint at it, from all cor- 
ners, for nearly a couple of hours, 
(having first called in the assistance 
of a friend of his, an old attorney 
of upwards of fifty years' standing ;) 
nay — even Mr. Gammon, foiled at 
length, could not for the life of him 
refrain from a soft curse or two. 
Neither of them could make any- 
thing of it — (as for Snap, they never 
showed it to him ; it was not within 
his province — i.e. the Insolvent Debt- 
ors' Court, the Old Bailey, the Clerk - 
enwell Sessions, the Police Offices, the 
inferior business of the Common Law 
Courts, and the worrying of the clerks 
of the office — a department in which 
he was perfection itself.) 

To their great delight, Mr. Tresayle's 
opinion completely corroborated that 
of Mr. Mortmain, (neither whose nor 
Mr. Frankpledge's had been laid be- 
fore him.) Nothing could be more 
terse, perspicuous, and conclusive 
than the great man's opinion. Mr. 
Quirk was in raptures, and immedi- 
ately sent out for an engraving of 
Mr. Tresayle, which had lately come 
out, for which he paid 5s., and ordered 



it to be framed and hung up in his 
own room, where already grinned a 
quaint resemblance, in black profile, 
of Mr. Mortmain. In special good- 
humour, he assured Mr. Gammon, 
(who was plainly somewhat crest- 
fallen about Mr. Frankpledge,) that 
everybody must have a beginning ; 
and even he himself (Mr. Quirk) had 
been once only a beginner. 

Once fairly on the scent, Messrs. 
Quirk and Gammon soon began, 
secretly but energetically, to push 
their enquiries in all directions. They 
discovered that Gabriel Tittlebat Tit- 
mouse, having spent the chief portion 
of his blissful days as a cobbler at 
Whitehaven, had died in London, 
somewhere about the year 17 — . At 
this point they stood for a long while, 
in spite of two advertisements, to 
which they had been driven with the 
greatest reluctance, for fear of attract- 
ing the attention of those most inter- 
ested in thwarting their efforts. Even 
that part of the affair had been 
managed somewhat skilfully. It was 
a stroke of Mr. Gammon's to advertise 
not for " Heir-at-Law," but "Next of 
Kin," as the reader has seen. The 
former might have challenged a notice 
of unfriendly curiosity, which the lat- 
ter was hardly calculated to attract. 
At length — at the "third time of 
asking" — up turned Tittlebat Tit- 
mouse, in the way which we have 
seen. His relationship with Mr. 
Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse was in- 
disputable ; in fact, he was that "de- 
ceased person's " son and heir-at-law. 

The reader may guess the chagrin 
and disgust of Mr. Gammon at the 
appearance, manner, and character of 
the person whom he fully believed, 
on first seeing him at Messrs. Tag- 
rag's, to be the rightful owner of the 
fine estates held by one who, as 
against Titmouse, had no more real 
title to them than had Mr. Tag- 
rag ; and for whom their house was 
to undertake the very grave respon- 
sibility of instituting such proceedings 
as would be requisite to place Mr. 
Titmouse in the position which they 
believed him entitled to occupy — 
havinff to encounter a hot and des- 



54 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAB. 



perate opposition at every point, from 
those who had nine-tenths of the law 
■ — to wit, possession — on their side, on 
which they stood as upon a rock ; 
and with immense means for carrying 
on the war defensive. That Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap did not 
contemplate undertaking all this, 
without having calculated upon its 
proving well worthy their while, was 
only reasonable. They were going 
voluntarily to become the means of 
conferring immense benefits upon one 
who was a total stranger to them — 
who had not a penny to expend upon 
the prosecution of his own rights. 
Setting aside certain difficulties which 
collected themselves into two awk- 
ward words, Maintenance and Cham- 
perty, and stared them in the face 
whenever they contemplated any ob- 
vious method of securing the just 
reward of their enterprise and toils — 
setting aside all this, I say, it might 
turn out, only after a ruinous ex- 
penditure had been incurred, that the 
high authorities which had sanctioned 
their proceedings, in point of law, 
had expressed their favourable opin- 
ions on a state of facts, which, 
however satisfactorily they looked 
on paper, could not be properly 
substantiated, if keenly sifted, and 
determinedly resisted. All this, too 
— all their time, labour, and money, 
to go for nothing — on behalf of a 
vulgar, selfish, ignorant, presump- 
tuous, ungrateful puppy, like Tit- 
mouse. Well indeed, therefore, might 
Mr. Gammon, as we have seen he did, 
give himself and partners a forty- 
eight hours' interval between his in- 
terview with Titmouse and formal 
introduction of him to the firm, in 
which to consider their position and 
mode of procedure. The taste of his 
quality which that first interview 
afforded them all — so far surpassing 
all that the bitter description of him 
given to them by Mr. Gammon had 
prepared them for — filled them with 
inexpressible disgust, and would have 
induced them to throw up the whole 
affair — so getting rid both of it and 
him together. But then, on the other 
hand, there were certain very great 



advantages, both of a professional and 
even directly pecuniary kind, which 
it would have been madness indeed 
for any office lightly to throw away. 
It was really, after all, an unequal 
struggle between feeling and interest. 
If they should succeed in unseating 
the present wrongful possessor of a 
very splendid property, and putting 
in his place the rightful owner, by 
means alone of their own professional 
ability, perseverance, and heavy pe- 
cuniary outlay, (a fearful consider- 
ation, truly, but Mr. Quirk had 
scraped together some thirty thousand 
pounds !) what recompense could be 
too great for such resplendent ser- 
vices ? To say nothing of the eclat 
which it would gain for their office, 
in the profession and in the world at 
large, and the substantial and perma- 
nent advantages, if, as they ought 
to be, they were intrusted with the 
general management of the property 
by the new and inexperienced and 
confiding owner — ay, but there was 
the rub ! "What a disheartening and 
disgusting specimen of such new 
owner had disclosed itself to their 
anxiously expecting but soon recoil- 
ing eyes — always, however, making 
due allowances for one or two cheering 
indications, on Mr. Titmouse's part, 
of a certain rapacious and litigious 
humour, which might pleasantly and 
profitably occupy their energies for 
some time to come ! Their position 
and interests had long made them 
sharp observers ; but when did ever 
before, low and disgusting qualities 
force themselves into revolting promi- 
nence, as his had done, in the very 
moment of an expected display of 
the better feelings of human nature — 
such as enthusiastic gratitude ? They 
had in their time had to deal with 
some pleasant specimens of humanity, 
to be sure ; but when with any more 
odious and impracticable than Tittle- 
bat Titmouse threatened to prove 
himself? What hold could they get 
upon such a character as his ? Be- 
neath all his coarseness and weakness, 
there was a glimmer of low cunning 
which might suffice to keep their su- 
perior and practised astuteness in full 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



55 



play. Those were difficulties, cheer- 
less enough in the contemplation, 
truly ; but, nevertheless, the partners 
could not bear the idea of escaping 
from them by throwing up the affair 
altogether. Then came the question 
— How were they to manage Titmouse ? 
— how acquire an early and firm hold 
of him, so as to convert him into a 
capital client? His fears and his inter- 
ests were obviously the engines with 
which their experienced hands were 
to work ; and several long and most 
anxious consultations had Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap had on 
this important matter. The first 
great question with them was — To 
what extent, and when, they should 
acquaint him with the nature of his 
expectations. 

Gammon was for keeping him com- 
paratively in the dark, till success was 
within reach : during that interval, 
(which might be a long one,) by al- 
ternately stimulating his hopes and 
fears ; by habituating him to an entire 
dependence on them ; by persuading 
him of the extent of their exertions 
and sacrifices on his behalf — they 
might do something ; mould him a 
little into shape fit for their purposes ; 
and persuade him that his affairs must 
needs go to ruin but in their hands. 
Something like this was the scheme of 
the cautious, acute, and placid Gam- 
mon. Mr. Quirk (with whom had 
originated the whole discovery) thought 
thus : — tell the fellow at once the whole 
extent of what we can do for him, viz., 
turn a half- starving linen-draper's 
shopman into the owner of £10,000 
a-year, and of a great store of ready 
money. This will, in a manner, stun 
him into submission, and make him at 
once and for all what we want him to 
be. He will immediately fall prostrate 
with reverent gratitude — looking at us, 
moreover, as three gods, who at our 
will can shut him out of heaven. 
" That's the way," said Mr. Quirk; 
and ilr. Quirk had been forty years in 
practice — had made the business what 
it was — still held half of it in his own 
hands, (two-thirds of the remaining 
half being Gammon's and the residue 
Snap's :) and Gammon, moreover, had 



a very distinct perception that the 
funds for carrying on the war would 
come out of the tolerably well-stored 
pockets of their senior partner. So, 
after a long discussion, he openly 
yielded his opinion to that of Mr. 
Quirk — cherishing, however, a very 
warm respect for it in his own bosom. 
As for Snap, that distinguished mem- 
ber of the firm was very little consulted 
in the matter ; which had not yet been 
brought into that stage where his 
powerful energies could come into 
play. He had of course, however, 
heard a good deal of what was going 
on ; and knew that erelong there would 
be the copying out and serving of the 
Lord knows how many copies of de- 
clarations in ejectment, motions against 
the casual ejector, and so forth — so far 
at least as he was "up to" all those 
quaint and anomalous proceedings. It 
had, therefore, been at length agreed 
that the communication to Titmouse, 
on his first interview, of the full extent 
of his splendid expectations, should 
depend upon the discretion of Mr. 
Quirk. The reader has seen the unex- 
pected turn which matters took upon 
that important occasion ; and if it 
proved Quirk's policy to be somewhat 
inferior in point of discretion and long- 
sightedness to that of Gammon, still it 
must be owned that the latter had 
cause to admire the rapid generalship 
with which the consequences of Quirk's 
false move had been retrieved by him 
— not ill seconded by Snap. What 
could have been more judicious than 
his reception of Titmouse, on the occa- 
sion of his being led in again by the 
subtle Gammon ? 

The next and greatest matter was, 
how to obtain any hold upon such a 
person as Titmouse had shown himself, 
so as to secure to themselves, in the 
event of success, the remuneration to 
which they considered themselves en- 
titled. Was it so perfectly clear that, 
if he felt disposed to resist it, they 
could compel him to pay the mere 
amount of their bill of costs ? 

Suppose he should turn round upon 

them, and have their Bill taxed — 

■ Quirk grunted with fright at the bare 

thought. Then there was a slapping 



56 



TEN THOUSAND A-FEAR. 



quiddam honorarium extra — undoubtr 
edly for that they must, they feared, 
trust to the honour and gratitude of 
Titmouse ; and a pretty taste of his 
quality they had already experienced ! 
Such a disposition as his, to have to 
rely upon for the prompt settlement of 
a bill of thousands of pounds of costs ! 
and, besides that, to have it to look to 
for the payment of at least some five 
or perhaps ten thousand pounds dou- 
ceur — nay, and this was not all. Mr. 
Quirk had, as well as Mr. Gammon, 
cast man}^ an anxious eye on the fol- 
lowing passages from a certain work 
entitled Blackstone's Commentaries : — 

"Maintenance is an officious in- 
termeddling in a suit that no way 
belongs to one, by ' maintaining ' or 
assisting either party with money, or 
otherwise, to prosecute or defend it. * * 
It is an offence against public justice, 
as it keeps alive strife and contention, 
and perverts the remedial process of 
the law into an engine of oppression. * * 
The punishment by common-law is fine 
and imprisonment, and by statute 32 
Hen. VIII. c. 9, a forfeiture of £10 ! 

" Champerty — (campi partitio) — is 
a species of Maintenance, and punished 
in the same manner ; being a bargain 
with a plaintiff or defendant ' campum 
partiri,' to divide the land, or other 
matter sued for, between them, if they 
prevail at law ; whereupon the cham- 
pertor is to carry on the suit at his 
own expense. * * These pests of civil 
society, that are perpetually endeav- 
ouring to dis f urb the repose of their 
neighbours, and officiously interfering 
in other men's quarrels, even at the 
hazard of their own fortunes, were 
severely animadverted on by the 
Roman law ; and they were punished 
by the forfeiture of a third part of 
their goods, and perpetual infamy." * 

These were pleasant passages sure- 
ly! 

Many were the conversations and 
consultations which the partners had 
had with Messrs. Mortmain and Frank- 
pledge respectively, upon the interest- 
ing question, whether there were any 
mode of at once securing themselves 

* Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. iv. pp. 
134-5. 



against the ingratitude of Titmouse, 
and protecting themselves against the 
penalties of the law. It made old Mr. 
Quirk's bald head, even, flush all oyer 
whenever he thought of their bill being 
taxed, or contemplated himself the 
inmate of a prison, (above all, at his 
advanced time of life,) with mournful 
leisure to meditate upon the misdeeds 
that had sent him thither, to which 
profitable exercise the legislature would 
have specially stimulated him by a 
certain fine above mentioned. As for 
Gammon, he knew there must be a 
way of doing the thing somehow or 
another ; for his friend Frankpledge 
felt infinitely less difficulty in the way 
than Mortmain, whom he considered a 
timid and old-fashioned practitioner. 
The courts, said Mr. Frankpledge, 
were now setting their faces strongly 
against the doctrine of Maintenance, 
as being founded on a bygone state of 
things : cessante ratione cessat ct ipsa, 
lex, was his favourite maxim. There 
was no wrong without a remedy, he 
said ; and was there not a tvrong in 
the case of a poor man wrongfully de- 
prived of his own ? And how could 
this be remedied, if the old law of 
Maintenance stood like a bugbear in 
the way of humane and spirited prac- 
titioners ? Was no one to be able to 
take up the cause of the oppressed, 
encouraged by the prospect of an ample 
recompense ? If it was said — let the 
claimant sue in forma pauperis .• but 
then he must swear that he is not 
worth five pounds ; and a man may 
not be able to take that oath, and yet 
be unequal to the commencement of a 
suit requiring the outlay of thousands. 
Moreover, a pretty pros'pect it was for 
such a suitor, (in forma pauperis,) if 
he should happen to be non-suited — to 
be " put to his election, whether to be 
whipped or pay the costs."* Thus 
reasoned within himself that astute 
person, Mr. Frankpledge ; and at 
length satisfied himself that he had 
framed an instrument which would 
"meet the case " — that " would hold 
water. " To the best of my recollection, 

* Blachstone, vol. iii. p. 400, where it ia 
stated, however, that "that practice is now 
disused." 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



57 



it was a bond, conditioned to pay the ; 
sum of ten thousand pounds to Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, within two 
months of Titmouse's being put into 
possession of the rents and profits of 
the estate in question. The condition 
of that bond was, as its framer believed, 
drawn in a masterly manner ; and his 
draft was lying before Messrs. Quirk, 
(.{amnion, and Snap, on the Wednesday ! 
morning, (i. e. the day after Titmouse's 
interview with them,) and had suc- 
ceeded at length in exciting the appro- 
bation of Mr. Quirk himself ; when — 
whew ! — down came a note from Mr. 
Frankpledge, to the effect that, " since 
preparing the draft bond," he had 
"had reason slightly to modify his 
original opinion, ' ' owing to his " having 
lit upon a late case," in which an 
instrument, precisely similar to the one 
which he had prepared for his admiring 
clients, had been held "totally inef- 
fectual and void both at law and in 
equity." I say, Mr. Frankpledge^ 
note was to that effect ; for so ingeni- 
ously had he framed it — so effectually 
concealed his retreat beneath a little 
cloud of contradictory authorities, like 
as the ink-fish, they say, eludeth its 
pursuers — that his clients cursed the 
law, not their draftsman : and, more- 
over, by prudently withholding the 
name of the "late case,'' he at all 
events, for a while, had prevented 
their observing that it was senior to 
some eight or ten cases which (inde- 
fatigable man !) he had culled for them 
out of the legal garden, and arrayed 
on the back of his draft. Slightly 
disconcerted were Messrs. Quirk and 
Gammon, it may be believed, at this 
new view of the ' ' result of the author- 
ities." " Mortmain is always right ! " 
said Quirk, looking hard at Gammon ; 
who observed simply that one day 
Frankpledge would be as old as Mort- 
main then was — by which time 
(thought he) I also know where you 
will be, my old friend, if there's any 
truth in the Scriptures ! In this 
pleasant frame of mind were the part- 
ners, when the impudent apparition 
of Huckaback presented itself, in the 
manner which has been described. 
Huckaback's commentary upon the 



disgusting text of Titmouse overnight, 
(as a lawyer would say, in analogy to 
a well-known term, "Coke upon Lit- 
tleton,") produced an effect upon their 
minds which may be guessed at. It 
was while their minds were under these 
two soothing influences, i. e. of the 
insolence of Huckaback and the vacil- 
lation of Frankpledge, that Mr. Gam- 
mon had penned the note to Titmouse, 
(surely, under the circumstances, one 
of extraordinary temper and forbear- 
ance,) which had occasioned Titmouse 
the agonies which I have been attempt- 
ing faintly to describe ; • — and that 
Quirk, summoning Snap into the 
room, had requested him to give 
orders for denial to Titmouse if he 
should again make his appearance at 
the office ; which injunction Snap 
forthwith delivered in the clerks' 
room, in a tone and manner that were 
a very model of the imperative mood. 

A day or two afterwards, Mr. Quirk, 
(who was a man that stuck like a 
limpet to a rock to any point which 
occurred to him,) in poring over that 
page in the fourth volume of Black- 
stone's Commentaries, where were to 
be found the passages which have been 
already quoted, (and which both Quirk 
and Gammon had long had off by 
heart,) as he sat one day at dinner, 
at home, whither he had taken the 
volume in question, fancied he had at 
last hit upon a notable crotchet, which, 
the more he thought of, the more he 
was struck with ; determining to pay 
a visit in the morning to Mr. Mort- 
main. The spark of light that had 
twinkled till it kindled in the tinder 
of his mind, was struck by his hard 
head out of the following sentence of 
the text in question : — 

"A man may, however, maintain 
the suit of his near kinsman, servant, 
or poor neighbour, out of charity 
and compassion, with impunity ; other- 
wise, the punishment is," &c. &c. * 

Now, it seemed to Mr. Quirk, that 
the words which I have placed in 
italics and small capitals, exactly met 
the case of poor Tittlebat Titmouse. 
He stuck to that view of the case, till 
he almost began to think that he really 
* Bloclcstone' s Commentaries, vol. iv. p. 135. 



58 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



had a kind of a sort of a charity and 
compassion for poor Tittlebat — kept 
out of his rights — tyrannized over by 
a vulgar draper in Oxford Street — 
where, too, no doubt, he was half- 
starved.— " It's a great blessing that 
one's got the means — and the inclina- 
tion, to serve one's poor neighbours " 
— thought Quirk, as he slowly swal- 
lowed another glass of the wine that 
maketh glad the heart of man — and 
also softeiis it ; — for the more he drank, 
the more and more pitiable became his 
mood — the more sensitive was he to 
compassionate suggestions ; and by 
the time that he had finished the 
decanter, he was actually in tears. 
These virtuous feelings brought their 
own reward, too — for, from time to 
time, they conjured up, as it were, the 
faint rainbow image of a bond con- 
ditioned for the payment of Ten 
Thousand Pounds ! 

To change the metaphor a little — 
by the time that old Quirk had 
reached his office in the morning, the 
heated iron had cooled ; if his heart 
had retained any of the maudlin soft- 
ness of the preceding evening, the 
following pathetic letter from Tit- 
mouse might have made a very deep 
impression upon it, and fixed him, in 
the benevolent and disinterested mind 
of the old lawyer, as indeed his "poor 
neighbour." The following is an exact 
copy of it. It had been written by 
Titmouse, all out of his own head ; 
and with his own hand had he left it, 
at a late hour on the night before. 

" To Messrs. Querk, Gamon, and 
Snape. 

"Gents, 
" Y r Esteem'd Favour lies now be- 
fore Me, which must Say have Given 
me Much Concern, seeing I Thought 
it was All Made up betwixt us That 
was of Such an Unpleasant Nature on 
Tuesday night (ultimo) wh I most 
humbly Own (and Acknowledge) was 
all alone and intirely of My Own Fault, 
and Not in the Least Your's which 
behaved to me, Must say, In the most 
Respectful and superior manner that 
was possible to think Of, for I truly 



Say I never was In the Company of 
Such Imminent and Superior Gents 
before In my Life w h will take my 
Oath sincerely Of, Gents. Please to 
consider the Brandy (wh do think was 
Uncommon Stiff) such a flustrum As I 
Was In before, to, wh was Evident to 
All of Us there then Assemblid and 
very natral like to be the Case Seeing 
I have nevir known what Peas of 
Mind was since I behaved in Such a 
Oudacious way wh truly was the case 
I can't Deny to Such Gents as Your- 
selfs that were doing me such Good 
Fortune And Kindness to me as it 
would Be a Dreadful sin and shame 
(such as Trust I can never be Guilty 
of) to be (wh am not) and never Can 
Be insensible Of, Gents do Consider 
all this Favourably because of my 
humble Amends wh I here Make with 
the greatest Trouble in my Mind that 
I have Had Ever Since, it was all of 
the Sperrits 1 Tooke wh made me Go 
On at such a Rate wh was always (beg 
to Assure yr most respe house) the 
Case Since my birth when I took 
Sperrits never so little Since I had the 
Meazles when I was 3 Years Old as I 
Well Recollect and hope it will be 
Born in Mind what is Often Said, and 
I'm Sure I've read it Somewhere Else 
that People that Is Drunk Always 
speaks the Direct Contrarywise of then- 
True and Real Thoughts, (wh am Cer- 
tain never was any Thing Truer in my 
case) so as I get the Money or What 
not, do whatever you Like wh are 
quite welcome to Do if you please, and 
No questions Asked, don't Mind say- 
ing by The Way It shall Be As Good 
as £200 note in The way of your 
Respe House if I Get the Estate of 
wham much in Want of. Mr. Gamon 
(wh is the most Upright gent that 
ever I came across in All my Life) will 
tell you that I Was Quite Cut up 
when he came After me in that kind 
Way and told him Then how I loved 
yr Respecte House and would do all 
In My power to Serve You, which see 
if I Don't, I was in Such a rage with 
that Fellow (He's only in a Situation 
m Tottenham Ct Road) Huckaback 
which is his true name it was an 
oudacious thing, and have given him 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



59 



such a Precious Good hiding last Night 
as you never saw when on his Bondid 
Knees He asked the pardon of your 
Iu'speotable House, sayg nothing Of 
Me wh wd not allow because I said I 
would Not Forgive Him because he 
had not injured me : But you, w'i I 
wonder at his Impudence in Calling on 
Professional Gents like you, if I get 
The Estate shall never cease to Think 
well of you and mean While how full 
of Trouble I am Often Thinking Of 
Death which is the End of Every 
Thing And then in that Case who will 
the Property Go to Seeing I Leave 
never a Brother or Sister Behind me. 
And Therefore Them That wd Get it I 
Feel Sure of wd Not do So Well by 
you (if You will Only believe Me) So 
Gents. This is All at present That I 
will Make so Bold to trouble you With 
About my Unhappy Affairs Only to 
say That am used most Intolerably 
Bad now In The Shop quite Tyranicall 
And Mr. Tag-Rag as Set Them All 
Against Me and I shall Never Get 
Another Situate for want of a Charr 
which he will give me sayg nothg at 
Present of the Sort of Victules wh give 
me Now to Eat Since Monday last, 
For Which am Sure the Devil must 
have Come In to That Gentleman (Mr. 
Tag-rag, he was only himself in a 
Situation in Holborn once, gettg the 
Business by marryg the widow wk won- 
der At for he is nothing Particular to 
Look At. ) I am ys 

Humbly to Command Till 
Death (always Humbly Begging par- 
don for the bad Conduct wh was guilty 
of when In Liquor Especially On an 
Empty Stomach, Having Taken No- 
thing all that Day excepting what I 
could not Eat,) 

" Your's most Respy, 

"Tittlebat Titmouse. 

" P.S. Will Bring That young Man 
with Tears In his Eyes to Beg yr par- 
don Over again If You Like wh will 
Solemnly Swear if Required That he 
did It all of His own Head And that 
Have given It him For it in the Way 
That is Written Above And humbly 
Trust You Will make Me So happy 
Once more by Writing To Me (if it is 



only a Line) To say You Have Thought 
No more of it. T. T. No 9 Closet C\ 
Oxford Street. 14/7/18—" 

This touching epistle, I was saying, 
might have brought tears into Mr. 
Quirk's eyes, if he had been used to 
the melting mood, which he was not ; 
having never been seen to shed a tear 
but once — when five-sixths of his little 
bill of costs (L.196, 15s. 4d.) were 
taxed off in an action on a Bill of 
Exchange for L.20. As it was, he 
tweedled the letter about in his hands 
for about five minutes, in a musing 
mood, and then stepped with it into 
Mr. Gammon's room. That gentle- 
man took the letter with an air of 
curiosity, and read it over ; at every 
sentence (if indeed a sentence there was 
in it) bursting into soft laughter. 

"Ha, ha, ha ! " he laughed on con- 
cluding it — "a comical gentleman, 
Mr. Titmouse, upon my honour ! " 

"Funny— isn't it rather?" inter- 
posed Mr. Quirk, standing with his 
hands fumbling about in his breeches 
pockets. 

" What a crawling despicable little 
rascal ! — ha, ha, ha ! " 

"Why — I don't quite say that, 
either," said Quirk, doubtingly — "I 
— don't exactly look at it in that 
light ! " 

"My dear sir ! " exclaimed Gammon, 
leaning back in his chair, and laugh- 
ing rather heartily, (at least for him.) 

"You can't leave off that laugh of 
yours," said Quirk, a little tartly; 
" but I must say I don't see anything 
in the letter to laugh at so particularly. 
It is written in a most respectful man- 
ner, and shows a proper feeling to- 
wards the house." 

"Ay ! see how he speaks of me/" 
interrupted Gammon, with such a 
smile ! — 

"And doesn't he speak so of me? 
and all of us ? " 

"He'll let the house tread on him 
till he can tread on the house, I dare 
say." 

"But you must own, Mr. Gammon, 
it shows we've licked him into shape a 
bit— eh ? " 

" Oh, it's a little vile creening 



60 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



reptile now, and so it will be to the 
cud of the chapter — of our proceed- 
ings ; and when we've done every- 
thing — really, Mr. Quirk ! if one were 
apt to lose one's temper, it would be 
to see such a thing as that put into 
possession of such a fortune." 
; V " That may be, Mr. Gammon ; but I 
really — hem ! — trust — I've — a higher 

feeling ! — To right — the injured " 

He could get no further. 

" Hem ! " exclaimed Gammon. 

The partners smiled at one another. 
A touch, or an attempted touch at 
disinterestedness ! — and at Quirk's time 
of life ! 

"But he's now in a humour for 
training, at all events — isn't he ? " 
exclaimed Quirk — "we've something 
now to go to work upon — gradually." 

" Isn't that a leaf out of my book, 
Mr. Quirk ? — isn't that exactly 
what " 

' ' Well, well — what does it signify ? " 
interrupted Quirk, rather petulantly — 
" I've got a crotchet that'll do for us, 
yet, about the matter of law, and 
make all right and tight — so I'm going 
to Mortmain." 

"I've got a little idea of my own 
of that sort, Mr. Quirk," said Gam- 
mon — " I've got an extract from Co- 
Litt — . I can't imagine how either of 
them could have missed it ; and, as 
Frankpledge dines with me to-day, 
we shall talk it all over. But, by the 
way, Mr. Quirk, I should say, with 
all deference, that we'll take no more 
notice of this fellow till we've got 
some screw tight enough " 

' ' Why — all that may be very well ; 
but you see, Gammon, the fellow 
seems the real heir, after all — and if 
he don't get it, no one can ; and if he 
don't — we don't ! eh ? " 

"There's a very great deal of force 
in that observation, Mr. Quirk," said 
Gammon emphatically : — and, toler- 
ably well pleased with one another, 
they parted. If Quirk might be com- 
pared to an old file, Gammon was the 
oil! — so they got on, in the main, 
very well together. It hardly signifies 
what was the result of their interviews 
with their two conveyancers. They 
met the next morning on ordinary 



business ; and as each made no allu- 
sions whatever to the "crotchet" of 
the day before, it may be safely 
inferred that each had been satisfied 
by his conveyancer of having found 
out a mare's nest. 

"I think, by the way," said Mr. 
Gammon to Mr. Quirk, before they 
parted on the previous evening, " it 
may be as well, all things considered, 
to acknowledge the receipt of the 
fellow's note — eh ? — Can't do any 
harm, you know, and civility costs 
nothing — hem ! " 

" The very thing I was thinking 
of," replied Quirk, as he always did 
on hearing any suggestion from Mr. 
Gammon. So by that night's post 
was dispatched (post-paid) the follow- 
ing note, to Mr. Titmouse : — ■ 

"Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap have the pleasure of acknow- 
ledging the receipt of Mr. Titmouse's 
polite letter of last night's date ; and 
earnestly beg that ho will not distress 
himself about the little incident that 
occurred at their office on Tuesday 
night, and which they assure him 
they have quite forgotten. They 
made all allowances, however their 
feelings suffered at the time. They 
beg Mr. T. will give them credit for 
not losing sight of his interests, to the 
best of their ability ; obstructed as 
they are, however, by numerous 
serious difficulties. If they should be 
in any degree hereafter overcome, he 
may rest assured of their promptly 
communicating with him ; and till 
then they trust Mr. T. will not in- 
convenience himself by calling on, or 
writing to them. 

"Saffron Hill, 15th July, 18—. 

"P.S.— Messrs. Q. G. and S. regret 
to hear that any unpleasantness has 
arisen (Gammon could hardly write for 
laughing) between Mr. Titmouse and 
his friend Mr. Hicklebagle, who, they 
assure him, manifested a very warm 
interest in behalf of Mr. T., and con- 
ducted himself with the greatest pro- 
priety on the occasion of his calling 
upon Messrs. Q. G. and S. They 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



61 



happened at that moment to he 
engaged in matters of the highest 
importance ; which will, they trust, 
explain any appearance of abruptness 
they might have exhibited towards 
that gentleman. Perhaps Mr. Tit- 
mouse will be so obliging as to intimate 
as much to Mr. Hickerbag. " 

There was an obvious reason for 
this polite allusion to Huckaback. 
Gammon thought it very possible that 
that gentleman might be in Mr. Tit- 
mouse's confidence, and exercise a 
powerful influence over him hereafter ; 
and which influence Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap might find it well 
worth their while to secure beforehand. 

The moment that Titmouse, with 
breathless haste, had read over this 
mollifying document, which being 
directed to his lodgings correctly, he 
obtained as soon as he had reached his 
lodgings, after quitting Mr. Tag-rag, 
about ten o'clock, he hastened to his 
friend Huckaback. That gentleman 
(who seemed now virtually recognised 
by Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap 
as Titmouse's confidant) shook his 
head ominously, exclaiming — "Blar- 
ney, blarney ! " and a bitter sneer 
settled on his disagreeable features, 
till he had read down to the post- 
script ; the perusal of which effected 
a sudden change in his feelings. He 
declared,- with a great oath, that 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap 
were "perfect gentlemen," and would 
"do the right thing, Titmouse might 
depend upon it ; " an assurance which 
greatly cheered Titmouse, to whose 
keen discernment it neyer once oc- 
curred to refer Huckaback's altered 
tone to the right cause, viz. the 
lubricating quality of the postscript ; 
and since Titmouse did not allude to 
it, no more did Mr. Huckaback, 
although his own double misnomer 
stuck a little in his throat. So 
effectual, indeed, had been that most 
skilful postscript upon the party whom 
it hail been aimed at, that he exerted 
himself unceasingly to revive Tit- 
mouse's confidence in Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snarj ; and so far suc- 
ceeded, that Titmouse returned to his 



lodgings at a late hour, a somewhat 
happier, if not a wiser man than he 
had left them. By the time, how- 
ever, that he had got into bed, having 
onee more Spelled over the note in 
question, he felt as despondent as 
ever, and thought that Huckaback 
had not known what he had been 
talking about. He also adverted to 
an apparently careless allusion by 
Huckaback to the injuries which had 
been inflicted upon him by Titmouse 
on the Wednesday night : and which, 
by the way, Huckaback determined it 
should be no fault of his if Titmouse 
easily forgot ! He hardly knew why 
— but he disliked this particularly. — 
Whom had he, however, in the world, 
but Huckaback ? In company with 
him alone, Titmouse felt that his 
■ pent-up feelings could discharge them- 
selves. Huckaback had certainly a 
wonderful knack of keeping up Tit- 
mouse's spirits, whatever cause he 
fancied he might really have for 
depression. In short, he longed for 
the Sunday morning — ushering in a 
day of rest and sympathy. Titmouse 
would indeed then have to look back 
upon an agitating and miserable week, 
what with the dismal upsetting of his 
hopes, in the manner I have described, 
and the tyrannical treatment he ex- 
perienced at Tag-rag and Co.'s. 

Mr. Tag-rag began, at length, in 
some degree, to relax his active exer- 
tions against Titmouse, simply because 
of the trouble it gave him to keep 
them up. He attributed the pallid 
cheek and depressed manner of Tit- 
mouse entirely to the discipline which 
had been inflicted upon him at the 
shop, and was gratified at perceiving 
that all his other young men seemed, 
especially in his presence, to have 
imbibed his hatred of Titmouse. What 
produced in Tag-rag this hatred of 
Titmouse ? Simply what had taken 
place on the Monday. Mr. Tag-rag's 
dignity and power had been doggedly 
set at nought by one of his shopmen, 
who had since refused to make the 
least submission, or offer any kind of 
apology. Such conduct struck at the 
root of subordination in his establish- 
ment. Again, there is perhaps nothing 



62 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



in the world so calculated to enrage a 
petty and vulgar mind to the highest 
pitch of malignity, as the calm per- 
severing defiance of an inferior, whom 
it strives to despise, while it is only 
hating, which it at the same time feels 
to be the case. Tag-rag now and then 
looked towards Titmouse, as he stood 
behind the counter, as if he could have 
murdered him. Titmouse attempted 
once or twice, during the week, to 
obtain a situation elsewhere, but in 
vain. He could expect no character 
from Tag-rag ; and when the 10th of 
August should have arrived, what was 
to become of him ? These were the 
kind of thoughts often passing through 
his mind during the Sunday, which 
he and Huckaback spent together in 
unceasing conversation on the one 
absorbing event of the last week. 
Titmouse, poor little puppy, had 
dressed himself with just as much 
care as usual ; but as he was giving 
the finishing touches at his toilet, 
pumping up grievous sighs every half 
minute, the sum of his reflections 
might be stated in the miserable 
significance of a quaint saying of Poor 
Richard's — " How hard is it to make 
an empty sack stand upright ! " 

Although the sun shone as vividly 
and beautifully as on the preceding 
Sunday, to Titmouse's saddened eye 
there seemed a sort of gloom every- 
where. Up and down the Park he 
and Huckaback walked, towards the 
close of the afternoon ; but Titmouse 
had not so elastic a strut as before. 
He felt empty and sinking. Every- 
body seemed to know what a sad 
pretender he was : and they quitted 
the magic circle much earlier than 
had been usual with Titmouse. "What 
with the fatigue of a long day's 
saunter, the vexation of having had 
but a hasty, inferior, and unrefreshing 
meal, which did not deserve the 
name of dinner, and their unpleasant 
thoughts, both seemed depressed as 
they walked along the streets. At 
length they arrived at the open doors 
of a gloomy-looking building, into 
which two or three sad and prim- 
looking people were entering. After 
Walking a few paces past the door — 



" Do you know, Huck," said Tit- 
mouse, stopping, " I've often thought 
that — ■ that — there's something in 
Heligion." 

"To be sure there is, for those that 
like it — who doubts it ? It's all very 
well in its place, no doubt," replied 
Huckaback with much surprise, which 
increased, as he felt himself slowly 
being swayed round towards the build- 
ing in question. " But what of that ? " 
" Oh, nothing ; but — hem ! hem ! " 
replied Titmouse, sinking his voice to 
a whisper — "a touch of — religion — 
would not be so much amiss, just now, 
I feel — uncommon inclined that way, 
somehow." 

" Religion's all very well, Titty, 
dear ! — for them that has much to be 
thankful for ; but devil take me ! what 

have either you or me to be " 

' ' But, Huck — how do you know but 
we might get something to be thankful 
for, by praying ? — I've often heard of 
great things ; — Come." 

Huckaback stood for a moment 
irresolute, twirling about his cane, and 
looking rather distastefully towards 
the dingy building. "To be sure," 
said he, faintly. Titmouse drew him 
nearer ; but he suddenly started back. 
— "No ! oh, 'tis only a meeting-house, 
Tit ! Curse Dissenters, how I hate 
'em ! No — I won't pray in a meeting- 
house, let me be bad as I may. Give 
me a regular-like, respectable church, 
with a proper steeple, and parson, and 
prayers, and all that." 

Titmouse secretly acknowledged the 
force of these observations ; and the 
intelligent and piously disposed couple, 
with perhaps a just, but certainly a 
somewhat sudden regard for orthodoxy, 
were not long before they had found 
their way into a church where evening 
service was being performed. They 
ascended the gallery stair ; and seeing 
no reason to be ashamed of being at 
church, down they both went, with 
loud clattering steps and a bold air, 
into the very central seat in the front 
of the gallery, which happened to be 
vacant. Titmouse paid a most exem- 
plary attention to what was going on, 
kneeling, sitting, and standing with 
exact propriety, in the proper places; 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



63 



joining audibly in the responses, and 
keeping his eyes pretty steadily on the 
prayer-book, which ho found lying 
there. He even rebuked Huckaback 
for whispering (during one of the most 
solemn parts of the service ) that ' ' there 
was a pretty gal in the next pew ! " — 
He thought that the clergyman was an 
uncommon fine preacher, and said some 
things that he must have meant for 
him, Titmouse, in particular. 

" Curse me, Hucky ! " said he 
heatedly, an soon as they had quitted 
the church, and were fairly in the 
street — " Curse me if — if — ever I felt 
so comfortable-like in my mind before, 
as I do now — I'll go next Sunday 
again." 

"Lord, Tit, you don't really mean 
— it's deuced dull work ! " 

" Hang me if I don't, though ! and 
if anything should come of it — if I do 
but get the estate — (I wonder, now, 
where Mr. Gammon goes to church. I 
should like to know ! — I'd go there 
regularly) — But if I do get the thing — 
you see if I don't " 

' ' Ah, I don't know ; it's not much 
use praying for money, Tit ; I've tried 
it myself, once or twice, but it didn't 
answer ! " 

" I'll take my oath you was staring 
at the gals all the while, Hucky ! " 

"Ah, Titty!" exclaimed Hucka- 
back, and winked his eye, and put the 
tip of his forefinger to the tip of his 
nose, and laughed. 

Titmouse continued in what he 
doubtless imagined to be a devout 
frame of mind, for several minutes 
after quitting the church. But close 
by the aforesaid church, the devil had 
a thriving little establishment, in 
the shape of a cigar-shop ; in which 
a showily-dressed young Jewess sat 
behind the counter, right underneath 
a glaring gas-light — with a thin stripe 
of greasy black velvet across her fore- 
head, and long ringlets that rested on 
her shoulders — bandying slang with 
two or three other such puppies as 
Titmouse and Huckaback. Our friends 
entered and purchased a cigar a-piece, 
which they lit on the spot ; and after 
each of them had exchanged an impu- 
dent wink with the Jewess, out they 



went, puffing away — all the remains of 
their piety ! When they had come to 
the end of their cigars they parted, 
each speeding homeward. Titmouse, 
on reaching his lodgings, sunk into 
profound depression. Ho felt an awful 
conviction that his visit to the cigar- 
shop had entirely spoilt the effect of 
his previous attendance at the church, 
and that, if so disposed, he might now 
sit and whistle for his ten thousand 
a-year. Thoughts such as these drove 
him nearly distracted. If, indeed, he 
had foreseen having to go through 
such another week as the one just over, 
I think it not impossible that before 
the arrival of the ensuing Sunday, Mr. 
Titmouse might have afforded a little 
employment to that ancient but gloomy 
functionary, a coroner, and his jury. 
At that time, however, inquests of this 
sort were matter-of-fact and melancholy 
affairs enough ; which I doubt not 
would have been rather a dissuasive 
from suicide, in the estimation of one 
who might be supposed ambitious of 
the eclat of a modern inquest ; where, 
indeed, such strange antics are played 
by certain new performers as would 
suffice to revive the corpse, (if it were 
a corpse that had ever had a spark of 
sense or spirit in it, ) and make it kick 
the coroner out of the room. But to 
one of so high an ambition as Tittlebat 
Titmouse, how delightful would it not 
have been, to anticipate becoming 
(what had been quite impracticable 
during life) the object of public atten- 
tion after his death — by means of a 
flaming dissertation by the coroner on 
his own zeal and spirit — the nature 
and extent of his rights, powers, and 
duties ; — when high doctors are brow- 
beaten, the laws set at defiance, and 
public decency plucked by the beard, 
and the torn and bleeding hearts of sur- 
viving relatives still further agonized 
by an exposure, all quivering under the 
recent stroke, to the gaping vulgar ! 
Indeed, I sometimes think that the 
object of certain coroners, now-a-days, 
is twofold ; first, public — to disgust 
people with suicide, by showing what 
horrid proceedings will take place over 
their carcasses ; and secondly, private 
— to get the means of studying anatomy 



64 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR 



hjpost mortems, which, the said coroner 
riever could procure in his own prac- 
tice ; which enables us to account for 
some things one has lately seen, viz. 
that if a man come to his death by- 
means of a waggon crushing his legs, 
the coroner institutes an exact examin- 
ation of the lungs and heart. I take 
it tor be getting now into a rule — the 
propriety whereof, some people think, 
cannot be doubted — namely, that 
bodies ought now to be opened only to 
prove that they ought not to have been 
opened ; an inquest must be held, in 
order to demonstrate that it need not 
have been held, except that certain 
fees thereby find their way into the 
pocket of the aforesaid coroner, which 
would otherwise not have done so. In 
short, such a coroner as I have in my 
eye may be compared to a great ape 
squatting on a corpse, furiously chat- 
tering and spitting at all around it ; 
and I am glad that it hath at last had 
wit enough first to shut the door before 
proceeding to its horrid tricks. 

Touching, by the way, the moral of 
Suicide, it is a way which some have 
of cutting the Gordian knot of the 
difficulties of life ; Which having been 
done, possibly the very first thing that 
is made manifest to the spirit, after 
taking its mad leap in the dark, is — 
how very easily the said knot might 
have been untied ; nay, that it was 
on the very point of being untied* if 
the impatient spirit had staiyed only a 
moment longer : — a dismal discovery 
which may excite ineffable grief at the 
folly and horror of the crime of which 
such spirit has been guilty. But ah ! 
it is too late ! The triumphant fiend 
has secured his victim ! 

I said it was not impossible that Mr. 
Titmouse might, under the circum- 
stances alluded to, have done the deed 
which has called forth the above very 
natural and profound reflections ; but. 
Upon the whole, it is hardly probable^ 
for he knew that by doing so he would 
(first) irreparably injure society, by 
depriving it of an enlightened and in- 
valuable member ; (secondly,) inflict 
great indignity on his precious body, 
of which, during life, he had always 
taken the most affectionate care, by 



consigning it to burial in a cross road, 
at night time, with a stake run through 
it, * and moreover peril the little soul 
that had just leaped out of it, by not 
having any burial-service said over his 
aforesaid remains ; and (lastly) lose all 
chance of enjoying Ten Thousand a- 
Year — at least upon earth. I own I 
was a little startled (as I dare say was 
the reader) at a passage of mournful 
significance in Mr. Titmouse's last 
letter to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap, viz. — "How full of trouble I 
am, often thinking of death, which is 
the end of everything ; " but on care- 
fully considering the context, I am 
disposed to think that the whole was 
only a device of Titmouse's, either to 
rouse the fears, or stimulate the feel- 
ings, or excite the hopes, of the three 
arbiters of his destiny to whom it was 
addressed. Mr. Gammon, he thought, 
might be thereby moved to pity ; while 
Mr. Quirk would probably be operated 
upon by fears, lest the sad contin- 
gency pointed at might deprive the 
house of one who would richly repay 
their exertions ; and by hopes of in- 
definite advantage, if they could by 
any means prevent- its happening. JE 
have often questioned Titmouse on 
the subject, but he would only wink 
his eye, and say that he "knew what 
to be at" as well as any one ! That 
these gentlemen really did keenly scru- 
tinize, and carefully weigh every ex- 
pression in that letter, ridiculous as 
it was, and contemptible as, I fear, is 
showed its writer to be, is certain ; but 
it did not occur to them to compare 
with it, at least, the spirit and inten- 
tion of their own answer to it. Did 
the latter document contain less cun- 
ning and insincerity, because it was 
couched in somewhat superior phrase- 
ology ? They could conceal their selfish 
and over-reaching designs, while poor 
Titmouse exposed all his little mean- 
mindedness and hypocrisy, simply 
because he had not learned how to 
conceal it effectually. 'Twas indeed a 
battle for the very same object, but 
between unequal combatants. Each 

* This mode of treating the remains of a 
felo d- se t Was (on the 8th July, 1823) abol- 
ished by Act of Parliament. 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



65 



was trying to take the other in. If 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap de- 
spised and loathed the man to whom 
they exhibited such anxious courtesy, 
Titmouse hated and feared those whom 
his interests compelled him for a while 
to conciliate. Was there, in fact, a 
pin to choose between them— except, 
perhaps, that Titmouse was, in a 
manner, excused by his necessities ? — 
But, in the mean while, his circum- 
stances were becoming utterly desper- 
ate. He continued to endure great 
suffering at Mr. Tag-rag's during the 
day — the constant butt of the ridicule 
and insult of his amiable companions, 
and the victim of his employer's vile 
and vulgar spirit of hatred and oppres- 
sion. His spirit, (such as it was, ) in 
short, was very nearly broken. Though 
he seized every opportunity that offered, 
to enquire for another situation, he was 
unsuccessful ; for all whom he applied 
to spoke of the strict character they 
should require, "before taking a new 
hand into their establishment." His 
occupation at nights, after quitting 
the shop, was twofold only — either to 
call upon Huckaback, (whose sym- 
pathy, however, he was exhausting 
rapidly,) or solace his feelings by 
walking down to Saffron Hill, and 
lingering about the closed office of 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap — 
there was a kind of gratification even 
in that ! He once or twice felt flustered 
even on catching a glimpse of the old 
housekeeper returning from some little 
errand. How he would have rejoiced 
to get into her good graces, and accom- 
pany her into even the kitchen — when 
he would be on the premises at least, 
and conversing with one of the estab- 
lishment of those who he believed 
could, with a stroke of their pens, 
turn this wilderness of a world into a 
paradise for him ! But he dared not 
make any overtures in that quarter, for 
fear of their getting to the notice of 
the dreaded Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap. 

At length, no more than three or 
four shillings stood between him and 
utter destitution ; and the only person 
in the world whom he could apply to 
for even the most trivial assistance, was 



Huckaback — whom, however, he knew 
to be scarcely any better off than him- 
self ; and whom, moreover, he felt to 
be treating him more and more coldly, 
as the week wore on without his hear- 
ing of any the least tidings from Saffron 
Hill. Huckaback evidently felt now 
scarcely any interest or pleasure in the 
visits of his melancholy friend, and 
was plainly disinclined to talk about 
his affairs. At length he quite turned 
up his nose with disgust, whenever 
Titmouse took out the well-worn note 
of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, 
which was almost dropping in pieces 
with being constantly carried about in 
his pocket, taken in and out, and folded 
and unfolded, for the purpose of con- 
ning over its contents, as if there 
might yet linger in it some hitherto 
undiscovered source of consolation. 
Poor Titmouse, therefore, looked at it 
on every such occasion with as eager 
and vivid an interest as ever ; but it 
was glanced at by Huckaback with a 
half-averted eye, and a cold, drawling, 
yawning " Ya— a — as — I see— I — dare 
— say!" As his impressions of Tit- 
mouse's bright prospects were thus 
being rapidly effaced, his smarting 
recollection of the drubbing he had 
received became distincter and more 
frequent ; his feelings of resentment 
more lively, and not the less so, be- 
cause the expression of them had been 
stifled, (while he had considered the 
star of Titmouse to be in the ascend- 
ant,) till the time for setting them 
iuto motion and action had gone by. 
In fact the presence of Titmouse, 
suggesting such thoughts and recol- 
lections, became intolerable to Hucka- 
back ; and Titmouse's perceptions 
(dull as they naturally were, but a 
little quickened by recent suffering) 
gave him more and more distinct 
notice of this circumstance, at the 
precise time when he meditated ap- 
plying for the loan of a few shillings. 
These feelings made him as humble 
towards Huckaback, and as patient of 
his increasing rudeness and ill-humour, 
as he felt abject towards Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap ; for, unless he 
could succeed in wringing some trifling 
loan from Huckaback, (if he really 

F 



66 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



had it in his power to advance him 
anything,) he could not conjecture 
what was to become of him. Various 
faint but unadroit hints and feelers of 
his had been thrown away ; for Hucka- 
back either did not, or could not, 
comprehend them. But at length a 
sudden and fearful pressure compelled 
him to speak out. Gripe, the collector, 
called one morning for the poor's rates 
due from Mrs. Squallop, (Titmouse's 
landlady,) and cleaned her out of 
almost every penny of ready money 
which she had by her. This threw 
the good woman upon her resources, 
to replenish her empty pocket — and 
down she came upon Titmouse— or 
rather, up she went to him ; for his 
heart sunk within him one night on 
his return from the shop, having only 
just taken off his hat and lit his candle, 
as he heard the fat old termagant's 
well-known heavy step ascending the 
stairs, and approaching nearer and 
nearer to his door. Her loud impera- 
tive single knock vibrated through his 
heart, and he was ready to drop. 

"Oh, Mrs. Squallop! How d'ye 
do, Mrs. Squallop ? " commenced Tit- 
mouse faintly, when he had opened 
the door ; "Won't you take a chair ? " 
offering to the panting dame almost 
the only chair he had. 

"No — I a'n't come to stay, Mr. 
Titmouse, because, d'ye see, in coorse 
you've got a pound, at least, ready for 
me, as you promised long ago — and 
nevermore welcome ; there's old Gripe 
been here to-day, and had his hodious 
rates — ('drat the poor, say I ! them as 
can't work should starve ! — rates is a 
robbery !) — but howsomdever he's 
cleaned me out to-day ; so, in coorse, 
I come up to you. Got it ? " 

"I — I — I — 'ponmylife, Mrs. Squal- 
lop, I'm uncommon sorry " 

"Oh, bother your sorrow, Mr. Tit- 
mouse ! — out with the needful, for I 
can't stop palavering here." 

"I — I can't, so help me !" 

gasped Titmouse, with the calmness 
of desperation. 

" You can't ! And marry, sir, why 
not, may I make bold to ask ? " en- 
quired Mrs. Squallop after a moment's 
pause, striving to choke down her rage. 



" P'r'aps you can get blood out of a 
stone, Mrs. Squallop ; it's what I 
can't," replied Titmouse, striving to 
screw his courage up to the sticking 
place, to encounter one who was 
plainly bent upon mischief. "I've 
got two shillings — there they are," 
throwing them on the table; "and 
cuss me if I've another rap in the 
world ; there, ma'am ! " 

"You're a liar, then, that's flat! " 
exclaimed Mrs. Squallop, slapping her 
hand upon the table, with a violence 
that made the candle quiver on it, and 
almost fall down. " You have tho 
himperance," said she, commencing 
the address she had been preparing in 
her own mind ever since Mr. Gripe 
had quitted her house, ' ' to stand 
there and tell me you've got nothing 
in the world but them two shillings ! 
Heugh ! Out on you, you oudacious 
fellow ! — you jack-a-dandy ! You tell 
me you haven't got more than them 
two shillings, and yet turns out every 
Sunday morning of your life like a 
lord, with your pins, and your rings, 
and your chains, and your fine coat, 
and your gloves, and your spurs, and 
your dandy cane — ough ! you whipper- 
snapper ! You're a cheat — you're a 
swindler, jack-a-dandy ! You're the 
contempt of the whole court, you are, 
you jack-a-dandy ! You've got all my 
rent on your back, and have had every 
Sunday for three months, you cheat ! 
— you low fellow ! — you ungrateful 
chap ! You're a-robbing the widow 
and fatherless ! Look at me, and my 
six fatherless children down there, you 
good-for-nothing, nasty, proud puppy ! 
• — eugh ! it makes me sick to see you. 
You dress yourself out like my lord 
mayor ! You've bought a gold chain 
with my rent, you rascally cheat ! 
You dress yourself out ? — Ha, ha ! — 
you're a nasty, mean-looking, humpty- 
dumpty, carroty-headed " 

" You'd better not say that again, 
Mrs. Squallop," quoth Titmouse, with 
a fierce glance. 

"Not say it again! — ha, ha! 
Hoighty-toighty, carroty-haired jack- 
a-dandy! — Why, you hop-o-my- thumb! 
d'ye think I won't say whatever I 
choose, and in my own house ? You're 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



67 



a Titmouse by name and by nature ; 
there a'n't a cockroach crawling down- 
stairs that a'n't more respectable-like 
and better behaved than you. You're 
a himpudent cheat, and dandy, and 
knave, and a liar, and a red-haired 
rascal — and that in your teeth ! Ough ! 
Your name stinks in the court. You're 
a-taking of everybody in as will trust 
you to a penny's amount. There's poor 
old Cox, the tailor, with a siek wife 
and children, whom you've cheated 
this many months, all of his not 
having spirit to summons you ! But 
Til set him upon you ; you see if I 
don't — and I'll have my own, too, or 
I wouldn't give that for the laws ! " 
shouted Mrs.- Squallop, at the same 
time snapping her fingers in his face, 
and then pausing for breath after her 
eloquent invective. 

"Now, what is the use," said Tit- 
mouse gently, being completely cowed 
— " now, what good can it do to go on 
in this way, Mrs. Squallop ? " 

" Missus me no missus, Mr. Tit- 
mouse, but pay me my rent, you jack- 
a-dandy ! You've got my rent on 
your back, and on your little finger ; 
and I'll have it off you before I've 
done with you, I warrant you. I'm 
your landlady, and I'll sell you up ; 
I'll have old Thumbscrew here the 
first thing in the morning, and distrain 
everything, and you, too, you jackdaw, 
if any one would buy you, which they 
won't ! I'll have my rent at last : 
I've been too easy with you, you un- 
grateful chap ; for, mark, even Gripe 
this morning says, ' Haven't you a 
gentleman lodger up above ? get him 
to pay you your own, ' says he ; and so 
I will. I'm sick of all this, and I'll 
have my rights ! Here's my son, Jem, 
a far better-looking chap than you, 
though he hasn't got hair like a sandy 
mop all under his chin, and he's 
obligated for to work from one week's 
end to another, in a paper cap and 
fustian jacket ; and you — you painted 
jackanapes ! But now I have got you, 
and I'll turn you inside out, though I 
know there's nothing in you ! But 
I'll try to get at your fine coats, and 
spurs, and trousers, your chains and 
pins, and make something of them 



' before I've done with you, you jaek-a- 
dandy ! " — and the virago shook her 
fist at him, looking as though she had 
not yet uttered eVeh half that was in 
her heart towards him. 

[Alas, alas, unhappy Titmouse, 
much-enduring son of sorrow ! I per- 
ceive that you now feel the sharpness 
of an angry female tongue ; and indeed 
to me, not in the least approving of 
the many coarse and heart-splitting 
expressions which she uses, it seems, 
nevertheless, that she is not very far 
off the mark in much that she hath 
said ; for, in truth, in your conduct 
there is not a little that to me, 
piteously inclined towards you as I am, 
yet appeareth obnoxious to the edge 
of this woman's reproaches. But 
think not, bewildered and not- 
with-sufficient-distinctness-discerning- 
the-nature-of-things Titmouse ! that 
she hath only a sharp and bitter 
tongue. In this woman behold a 
mother, and it may be that she will 
soften before you, who have plainly, 
as I hear, neither father nor mother. 
Oh me !] 

Titmouse trembled violently ; his 
lips quivered ; and the long pent-up 
tears forced their way at length over 
his eyelids, and fell fast down his 
cheeks. 

"Ah, you may well cry ! — you may ! 
But it's too late ! — it's my turn to cry 
now ! Don't you think that I feel for 
my own flesh and blood, that is my 
six children ? And isn't what's mine 
theirs ? And aren't you keeping the 
fatherless out of their own ? It's too 
bad of you — it is ! and you know it 
is," continued Mrs. Squallop, vehe- 
mently. 

" They've got a mother — a kind — 
good — mother — to take — care of 
them," Titmouse sobbed ; " but there's 
been no one in the — the — world that 
cares a straw for ma — this twenty — 
years ! " He fairly wept aloud. 

" Well, then, more's the pity for 
you. If you had, they wouldn't have 
let you make such a puppy of yourself 
— and at your landlady's expense, too. 
You know you're a fool," said Mrs. 
Squallop, dropping her voice a little ; 
for she was a motheb, after all, and 

F 2 



68 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



she knew that what poor Titmouse 
had just stated was quite true. She 
tried hard to feed the fire of -her wrath, 
by forcing into her thoughts every 
aggravating topic against Titmouse 
that she could think of ; but it became 
every moment harder and harder to do 
so, for she was consciously softening 
rapidly towards the weeping and miser- 
able little object, on whom she had 
been heaping such violent and bitter 
abuse. He was a great fool, to be sure 
— he was very fond of fine clothes — he 
knew no better — he had, however, paid 
his rent well enough till lately — he was 
a very quiet, well-disposed lodger, for 
all she had known — he had given her 
youngest child a pear not long ago. 
Really, thought Mrs. Squallop, I may 
have gone a lectle too far. 

" Come — it a'n't no use crying in 
this way. It won't put money into 
your pocket, nor my rent into mine. 
You know you've wronged me, and I 
must be paid," she added, but in a 
still lower tone. She tried to cough 
away a certain rising disagreeable 
sensation about her throat, that kept 
increasing ; for Titmouse, having 
turned his back to hide the extent 
of his emotions, seemed half-choked 
with suppressed sobs. 

" So you won't speak a word — not a 
word — to the woman you've injured 
so much ? " enquired Mrs. Squallop, 
trying to assume a harsh tone ; but 
her eyes were a little obstructed with 
tears. 

"I — I — can't speak," sobbed Tit- 
mouse — "I- — I feel ready to drop — 
everybody hates me "■ — here he paused ; 
and for some moments neither spoke. 
" I've been kept on my legs the whole 
day about the town by Mr. Tag-rag, 
and had no dinner. I — I — wish I was 
dead .' I do ! — you may take all I 
have — here it is," continued Titmouse, 
with his foot pushing towards Mrs. 
Squallop the old hair trunk that con- 
tained all his little finery. " I sha'n't 
want them much longer, for I'm 
turned out of my situation." 

This was too much for Mrs. Squallop, 
and she was obliged to wipe her full 
eyes with the corner of her apron, 
without saying a word. Her heart 



smo'e her for the misery she had in- 
flicted on one who seemed quite broken 
down. Pity suddenly flew, fluttering 
his wings — soft dove ! — into her heart, 
and put to flight in an instant all her 
enraged feelings. "Come, Mr. Tit- 
mouse," said she, in quite an altered 
tone, "never mind me; I'm a plain- 
spoken woman enough, I dare say — 
and often say more than I mean — 
for I know I a'n't over particular when 
my blood's up — but — lord ! — I — I 
wouldn't hurt a hair of your head, 
poor chap ! — for all I've said — no, not 
for double the rent you * owe me. 
Come ! don't go on so, Mr. Titmouse — 
what's the use ? — it's all quite — over — 
I'm so sorry — Lud ! -if I'd really 
thought " — she almost sobbed — 
"you'd been so — so — why, I'd have 
waited till to-morrow night before I'd 
said a word. But, Mr. Titmouse, 
since you haven't had any dinner, 
won't you have a mouthful of some- 
thing — a bit of bread and cheese ? — 
I'll soon fetch you up a bit, and a 
drop of beer— we've just had it in for 
our suppers." 

"No, thank you — I can't — I can't 
eat ! " sobbed Titmouse. 

" Oh, bother it, but you shall .' I'll 
go down and fetch it up in half-a- 
minute, as sure as my name is Squal- 
lop ! " And out of the room and down- 
stairs she bustled, glad of a moment to . 
recover herself. 

" Lord-a-mercy ! " said she, on en- 
tering her room, to her eldest daughter 
and a neighbour who had just come in 
to supper — and while she hastily out a 
thick hunch of bread, and a good slice 
of cheese — "there I've been a-rating 
that poor little chap, up at the top 
room, (my dandy lodger, you know, ) 
like anything — and I really don't 
think he's had a morsel of victuals in 
his belly this precious day ; and I've 
made him cry, poor soul ! as if his 
heart would break. Pour us out half 
a pint of that beer, Sally — a good half 
pint, mind ! — I'm going to take it up- 
stairs directly. I've gone a deal too 
far with him, I do think ; but it's all 
of that nasty old Gripe ; I've been 
wrong all the day through it ! How I 
hate the sight of old Gripe I What 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



69 



odious-looking people they do get to 
collect the rates ana taxes, to be sure ! 
— Poor chap," she continued, as she 
wiped out a plate with her apron," and 
put into it the bread and cheese, with 
a knife — " he offered me a chair when 
I went in, so uncommon civil-like, it 
took a good while before I could get 
myself into the humour to give it him 
ns I wanted. And he's no father nor 
mother, (half of which has happened 
to you, Sal, and the rest will happen 
one of these days, you know !) and he's 
not such a very bad lodger, after all, 
though he does get a little behind-hand 
now and then, and though he turns 
out every Sunday like a lord, poor fool 
— as my poor husband usedto say, 'with 
a shining back and empty belly. ' " 

"But that's no reason why honest 
people should be kept out of their 
own, to feed his pride," interposed her 
neighbour, a skinny old widow, who 
had never had chick nor child, and 
was always behind-hand with her own 
rent ; but whose effects were not worth 
distraining upon. "I'd get hold of 
some of his fine crincum-crancums 
and gimcracks, for security like, if I 
were you. I would, indeed." 

" Why — no, poor soul — I don't 
hardly like : he's a vain creature, and 
puts everything he can on his back, 
to be sure ; but he a'n't quite a rogue, 
neither." 

"Ah, ha, Mrs. Squallop — you're 
such a simple soul ! — Won't my fine 
gentleman make off with his finery 
after to-night ? " 

"Well, I shouldn't have thought 
it ! To be sure he may ! Really, there 
can't be much harm in asking him (in 
a proper kind of way) to deposit one 
of his fine things with me, by way of 
security — that ring of his, you know 
— eh? — Well, I'll try it anyhow," 
said Mrs. Squallop, as she set off up- 
stairs. 

" I know what I should do, if so be 
he was a lodger of mine, that's all," 
said her visitor, (as Mrs. Squallop 
quitted the room,) vexed to find th.ir 
supper so considerably and unexpect- 
edly diminished, especially as to the 
pot of porter, which she strongly 
suspected would not be replenished, 



" There," said Mrs. Squallop, setting 
down on the table what she had 
brought for Titmouse, "there's a bit 
of supper for you ; and you're welcome 
to it, I'm sure, Mr. Titmouse." 

" Thank you, thank you — I can't 
eat," said he, casting, however, upon 
the victuals a hungry eye, which belied 
what he said, while in his heart he 
longed to be left alone with them for 
about three minutes. 

"Come, don't be ashamed — fall to 
work — it's good wholesome victuals," 
said she, lifting the table near to the 
edge of the bed, on the side of which 
he was sitting, and taking up the two 
shillings lying on the table — -"and 
capital good beer, I warrant me ; 
you'll sleep like a top after it." 

"You're uncommon kind, Mrs, 
Squallop ; but I sha'n't get a wink of 
sleep to-night for thinking " 

"Oh, bother your thinking! Let 
me begin to see you eat a bit. Well, 
I suppose you don't like to eat and 
drink before me, so I'll go." [Here 
arose a sudden conflict in the good 
woman's mind, whether or not she 
would act on the suggestion which had 
been put into her head down-stairs. 
She was on the point of yielding to 
the impulse of her own good-natured, 
though coarse feelings ; but at last — ] 
"I — I — dare say, Mr. Titmouse, you 
mean what's right and straightfor- 
ward," she stammered. 

" Yes, Mrs. Squallop — you may keep 
those two shillings ; they're the last 
farthing I have left in the whole 
world." 

"No — hem! hem! — ahem! I was 
just suddenly a-thinking — now can't 
you guess, Mr. Titmouse ? "■ 

" What, Mrs. Squallop ? " enquired 
Titmouse, meekly but anxiously. 

' ' Why — suppose now — if it were 
only to raise ten shillings with old 
Balls, round the corner, on one of 
those fine things of yours — your ring, 
say." [Titmouse's heart sank within 
him.] "Well, well — never mind — 
don't fear," said Mrs. Squallop, ob- 
serving him suddenly turn pale again. 
" I — I only thought — but never mind ! 
it don't Signify — good-night ! we can 
talk about that tq-morrow — good-night 



70 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR, 



— a good night's rest to you, Mr. 
Titmouse ! " and the next moment he 
heard her heavy step descending the 
stairs. Several minutes had elapsed 
before he could recover from the agita- 
tion into which he had been thrown 
by her last proposal ; but within ten 
minutes of her quitting the room, 
there stood before him, on the table, 
an empty plate and jug. 



CHAPTEK IV. 

"The beast! the fat old toad!" 
thought he, the instant that he had 
finished masticating what had been 
supplied to him by real charity and 
good- nature, — "the vulgar wretch ! — 
the nasty canting old hypocrite ! — I 
saw what she was driving at all the 
while ! — She had her eye on my ring ! 
— She'd have me pawn it at old Balls's 
— ha, ha ! — Catch me ! that's all ! — 
Seven shillings a-week for this nasty 
hole ! — I'll be bound I pay nearly half 
the rent of the whole house — the old 
cormorant ! — out of what she gets 
from me ! How I hate her ! More 
than half my salary goes into her 
greasy pocket ! Cuss me if I couldn't 
have kicked her down-stairs — porter, 
bread and cheese, and all — while she 
was standing canting there ! — A snivel- 
ling old beldam ! — Pawn my ring ! ! 
— Lord ! ! " — Here he began to un- 
dress. "Ha! I'm up to her; she'll 
be coming here to-morrow, with that 
devil Thumbscrew, to distrain, I'll be 
sworn. Well — I'll take care of these, 
anyhow ; " and, kneeling down and 
unlocking his trunk, he took out of 
it his guard-chain, breast-pin, studs, 
and ring, carefully folded them up in 
paper, and depositing them in his 
trousers' pockets, resolved that hence- 
forth their nightly resting-place should 
be — under his pillow ; while during the 
day they should accompany his person 
whithersoever he went. Next he be- 
thought himself of the two or three 
important papers to which Mr. Gam- 
mon had referred ; and, with tremulous 



eagerness, read them over once or 
twice, but without being able to 
extract from them the slightest clue 
to their real character and bearing. 
Then he folded them up in a half- 
sheet of writing-paper, which he pro- 
ceeded to stitch carefully beneath the 
lining of his waistcoat : after which he 
blew out his slim candle, and with a 
heavy sigh got into bed. For some 
moments after he had blown out the 
candle did the image of it remain on 
his aching and excited retina ; and 
just so long did the thoughts of ten 
thousand a-year dwell on his fancy, 
fading, however, quickly away amid 
the thickening gloom of doubts, and 
fears, and miseries, which oppressed 
him. There he lies, stretched on his 
bed, a wretched figure, lying on his 
breast, his head buried beneath his 
feverish arms. Anon, he turns round 
upon his back, stretches his wearied 
limbs to their uttermost, folds his 
arms on his breast, then buries them 
beneath the pillow, under his head. 
Now he turns on his right side, then 
on his left — presently he starts up, 
and with muttered curse shakes his 
little pillow, flinging it down angrily. 
He cannot sleep — he cannot rest — he 
cannot keep still. Bursting with irri- 
tability, he gets out of bed, and steps 
to the window, which opening wide, 
a slight gush of fresh air cools his 
hot face for a moment or two. His 
wearied eye looks upward and beholds 
the moon shining overhead in cold 
splendour, turning the clouds to gold 
as they flit past her, and shedding a 
softened lustre upon the tiled roofs 
and irregular chimney-pots — the only 
objects visible to him. No sound is 
heard, but occasionally the dismal cry 
of a disappointed cat, the querulous 
voice of the watchman, and the echo 
of the rumbling hubbub of Oxford 
Street. O miserable Titmouse ! of 
what avail is it for thee thus to fix 
thy sorrowful lack-lustre eye upon the 
cold Queen of Night ! 

* * * * 

At that moment there happened to 

be^ also gazing at the same glorious 

object, but at some two hundred 

miles' distance from London, a some- 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



71 



what different person, with very dif- 
ferent feelings, and in very different 
circumstances. It was one of the 
angels of the earth— a pure-hearted 
and very beautiful girl ; who, after a 
day of peaceful, innocent, and charit- 
able employment, and having just 
quitted the piano, where her exquisite 
strains had soothed and delighted the 
feelings of her brother, harassed with 
political anxieties, had retired to her 
chamber for the night. A few moments 
before she was presented to the reader, 
she had extinguished her taper, and 
dismissed her maid without her having 
discharged more than half her accus- 
tomed duties — telling her that she 
should finish undressing by the light 
of the moon, which then poured her 
soft radiance into every corner of the 
spacious but old-fashioned chamber in 
which she sat. Then she drew her 
chair to the window-recess, and push- 
ing open the window, sat before it, 
half-undressed as she was, her hair 
dishevelled, her head leaning on her 
hand, gazing on the scenery before her 
•with tranquil admiration. Silence 
reigned absolutely. Not a sound is- 
sued from the ancient groves which 
spread far and wide on all sides of the 
fine old mansion in which she dwelt — 
solemn solitudes, not yet less soothing 
than solemn ! Was not the solitude 
enhanced by a glimpse she caught 
of a restless fawn, glancing in the dis- 
tance across the avenue, as he silently 
changed the tree under which he slept '( 
—Then the gentle breeze would enter 
her window, laden with sweet scents of 
which he had just been rifling the coy 
flowers beneath, in their dewy repose, 
tended and petted during the day by 
her own delicate hand ! — Beautiful 
moon ! — cold and chaste in thy skyey 
palace, studded with brilliant and in- 
numerable gems, and shedding down 
thy rich and tender radiance upon this 
lovely seclusion — was there upon the 
whole earth a more exquisite counte- 
nance then turned towards thee than 
hers ? — Wrap thy white robe, dearest 
Kate, closer round thy fair bosom, lest 
the amorous night- breeze do thee hurt, 
for he groweti giddy with the sight 
of thy charns ! Thy rich tresses, 



half-uncurled, are growing damp — so 
it is time that thy blue eyes should 
seek repose. Hie thee, then, my 
love ! — to yon antique couch, with its 
quaint carvings and satin draperies 
dimly visible in the dusky shade, 
inviting thee to sleep : and having 
first bent in cheerful reverence before 
thy Maker — to bed ! — to bed ! — sweet 
Kate, nothing disturbing thy serene 
thoughts, or agitating that beautiful 
bosom. — Hush ! hush ! — Now she 
sleeps ! It is well that thine eyes are 
closed in sleep ; for behold — see ! — 
the brightness without is disappear- 
ing ; sadness and gloom are settling 
on the face of nature ; the tranquil 
night is changing her aspect ; clouds 
are gathering, winds are moaning ; 
the moon is gone : — but sleep on, 
sweet Kate — sleep on, dreaming not 
of dark days before thee — Oh, that 
thou couldst sleep on till the bright- 
ness returned ! 

* # * * * 

After having stood thus leaning 
against the window for nearly half an 
hour, Titmouse, heavily sighing, re- 
turned to bed — but there he tossed 
about in wretched restlessness till 
nearly four o'clock in the morning. 
If he now and then sank into for- 
getfulness for a while, it was only 
to be harassed by the dreadful image 
of Mrs. Squallop, shouting at him, 
tearing his hair, cuffing him, flinging 
a pot of porter in his face, opening 
his boxes, tossing his clothes about, 
taking out his invaluable ornaments ; 
by Tag-rag kicking him out of the 
shop ; and Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap dashing past him in a fine 
carriage, with six horses, and paying 
no attention to him as he ran shout- 
ing and breathless after them ; Huck- 
aback following, kicking and pinching 
him behind. These were the few 
little bits of different coloured glass in 
a mental kaleidoscope, which, turned 
capriciously round, produce those in- 
numerable fantastic combinations out 
of the simple and ordinary events of 
the day, which we call dreams — tricks 
of the wild sisters Fancy, when sober 
Reason has left her seat for a while. 
But this is fitter for the Boyal Society 



72 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



than the bedroom of Tittlebat Tit- 
mouse ; and I beg the reader's pardon. 

About six o'clock, Titmouse rose 
and dressed himself; and, slipping 
noiselessly and swiftly down - stairs, 
and out of the court, in order to avoid 
all possibility of encountering his 
landlady or his tailor, soon found 
himself in Oxford Street. Not many 
people were stirring there. One or 
two men who passed him were smoking 
their morning's pipe, with a half- 
awakened air, as if they had only just 
got out of a snug bed, in which they 
always slept every moment that they 
lay upon it. Titmouse almost envied 
them ! What a squalid figure he 
looked as he paced up and down, till 
at length he saw the porter of Messis. 
Tag-rag and Co. opening the shop-door. 
He soon entered it, and commenced 
another joyous day in that delightful 
establishment. The amiable Mr. Tag- 
rag continued unaltered. 

" You're at liberty to take yourself 
off, sir, this very day— this moment, 
sir ; and a good riddance," said he, 
bitterly, during the course of the day, 
after demanding of Titmouse how he 
dared to give himself such sullen airs ; 
' ' and then we shall see how charming 
easy it is for gents like you to get 
another sitiwation, sir ! Your looks 
and manner is quite a recommenda- 
tion, sir ! If I was you, sir, I'd raise 
my terms i You're worth double what 
I give, sir ! " Titmouse made no 
reply. " What do you mean, sir, by 
not answering me — eh, sir ? " suddenly 
demanded Tag-rag, with a look of 
fury. 

" I don't know what you'd have me 
say, sir. What am I to say, sir ? " 
enquired Titmouse, with a sigh. 

' ' What, indeed ! I should like to 
catch you ! Say, indeed ! Only say 
a word — and out you go, neck and 
crop. Attend to that old lady coming 
in, sir. And mind, sir, I've got my 



eye on you ! 



Titmouse did as he 



was bid ; and Tag-rag, a bland smile 
suddenly beaming in his attractive 
features, hurried down towards the 
door, to receive some lady-customers, 
whom he observed alighting from a 
carriage ; and at that moment -you 



would have sworn that he was one of 
the kindest-hearted, sweetest- tempered 
men in the world. 

When at length this day had come 
to a close, Titmouse, instead of repair- 
ing to his lodgings, set off, with a 
heavy heart, to pay a visit to his 
excellent friend Huckaback, whom he 
knew to have received his quarter's 
salary the day before, and from whom 
he faintly hoped to succeed in extort- 
ing some trifling loan. " If you want 
to learn the value of money, try to 
borrow some," says Poor Richard — 
and Titmouse was now going to learn 
that useful but bitter lesson. Oh, 
how disheartening was Mr. Hucka- 
back's reception of him ! That gentle- 
man, in answering the modest knock 
of Titmouse, suspecting who was his 
visitor, opened the door but a little 
way, and in that little way, with his 
hand on the latch, he stood, with 
a plainly repulsive look. 

"Oh! it's you, Titmouse, is it?" 
he commenced, coldly. 

"Yes. I — I just want to speak a 
word to you — only a word or two, 
Hucky, if you aren't busy ? " 

" Why, I was just going to go — ■ 
but what d'ye want, Titmouse ? " he 
enquired, in a freezing manner, not 
stirring from where he stood. 

"Let me come inside a minute," 
implored Titmouse, feeling as if his 
heart were really dropping out of him : 
and, in a most ungracious manner, 
Huckaback motioned him in. 

"Well," commenced Huckaback, 
with a chilling distrustful look. 

"Why, Huck, I know you're a 
good-natured chap— you couldn't, just 
for a short time, lend me ten shill " 

" No, curse roe if I can : and that's 
flat ! " briskly interrupted Huckaback, 
finding his wont suspicions confirmed. 

"Why, Hiicky, wasn't you only 
yesterday paid your salary ? " 

" Well ! — suppose I was ? — what 
then ? You're a monstrous cool hand, 
Titmouse ! 1 never ! ! So I'm to lend 
to you, when I'm starving myself! 
I've received such a lot, haven't I ! " 

' ' I thought we'd always been friends, 
Hucky, "said Titmouse faintly ; "and 
so we shouldn't mind, helping one 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



73 



another a bit ! Don't you remember, 
I once lent you half-a-crown ? " 

" Half-a-crown ! — and that's nine 
months ago ! " 

" Do, Hucky, do ! Ton my soul, 
I've not a sixpence in the whole world." 

" Ha, ha ! A pretty chap to borrow ! 
You can pay so well ! By George, 
Titmouse, you're a cool hand ! " 

" If you won't lend me, I must 
starve." 

"Go to my uncle's." [Titmouse 
groaned aloud.] "Well — and why 
not? "What of that?" continued 
Huckaback, sharply and bitterly. " I 
dare say it wouldn't be the first time 
you've done such a trick no more than 
me. I've been obligated to do it. 
Why shouldn't you ? A'n't there that 
ring ? " 

"Oh, Lord! oh, Lord! that's just 
what Mrs. Squallop said last night." 

"Whew! She's down on you, is 
she ! And you have the face to come 
to me ! You — that's a-going to be 
sold up, come to borrow ! Lord, that's 
good, anyhow ! A queer use that to 
make of one's friends ; — it's a taking 
them in, I say ! " 

' ' Oh, Huck, Huck, if you only 
knew what a poor devil " 

"Yes, that's what I was a-saying ; 
but it a'n't 'poor devils' one lends 
money to, so easily, I warrant me ; 
though you a'n't such a poor devil — 
you're only shamming ! Where's your 
guard-chain, your studs, your breast- 
pin, your ring, and all that ? Sell 
'em ! if not, anyhow, pawn 'em. 
Can't eat your cake and have it ; fine 
back must have empty belly with us 
sort of chaps." 

" If you'll only be so uncommon 
kind as to lend me — this once — ten 
shillings," continued Titmouse in an 
imploring tone, " I'll bind myself, by 
a solemn oath, to pay you the very 
first moment I get what's due to me 

from Tag-rag & Co." Here he was 

almost choked by the sudden recol- 
lection that he had almost certainly 
nothing to receive. 

' ' You've some property in the moon, 
too, that's coming to you, you know ! " 
said Huckaback with an insulting 
snei.-r. 



" I know what you're driving at," 
said poor Titmouse ; and he continued 
eagerly, "and if anything should 
ever come up from Messrs. Quirk, 
Gam- " 

"Yough! Faugh! Pish! Stuff!" 
burst out Huckaback, in a tone of con- 
tempt and disgust; "never thought 
there was anything in it, and now 
know it ! It's all my eye, and all 
that ! " 

" Oh, Hucky, Hucky ! You don't 
say so ! " groaned Titmouse, bursting 
into tears ; "you did not always say 
so." 

"It's enough that I say it now, 
then ; will that do ? " interrupted 
Huckaback, impetuously. 

" Oh, Lord, Lord ! what is to be- 
come of me ? " cried Titmouse, with a 
face full of anguish. 

[At this moment, the following was 
the course of thought passing through 
the mind of Mr. Huckaback : — It is 
not certain that nothing will come of 
the fellow's affair with Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap. It was hardly 
likely that they would have gone as 
far as Titmouse represented (lawyers 
as they were), unless they had seen 
very substantial grounds for doing so. 
Besides, even though Titmouse might 
not get ten thousand a-year, he might 
yet succeed in obtaining a very splen- 
did sum of money : and if he (Hucka- 
back) could but get a little slice out of 
it, Titmouse was now nearly desperate, 
and would promise anything ; and if 
he could but be wheedled in to giving 
anything in writing — Well, thought 
Huckaback, I'll try it, however !] 

"Ah, Titmouse, you're civil enough 
now, and would promise anything," 
said Huckaback, appearing to hesi- 
tate ; but when you got your money 
you'd, forget everything about it " 

" Forget my promise ! Dear Hucky ! 
only try me — do try me but once, 
that's all ! Ton my precious life, ten 
shillings is worth more to me now 
than a hundred pounds may be by- 
and-by." 

"Ay, so you say now; but d'ye 
mean to tell me, that if I was now to 
advance you ten shillings out of my 
poor little salary," continued Hucka- 



74 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



back, apparently carelessly, "you'd, 
for instance, pay me a hundred pounds 
out of your thousands ? " 

" Oh, Lord ! only you try me — do 
try me ! " said Titmouse, eagerly. 

"Oh, I dare say," interrupted 
Huckaback, smiling incredulously, and 
chinking some money in his trousers' 
pocket. Titmouse heard it, and (as 
the phrase is) his teeth watered ; and 
he immediately swore such a tremen- 
dous oath as I dare not set down in 
writing, that if Huckaback would that 
evening lend him ten shillings, Tit- 
mouse would give him one hundred 
pounds out of the very first monies he 
got from the estate. 

"Ten shillings is a slapping slice 
out of my little salary — I shall have, 
by George, to go without a many 
things I'd intended getting ; it's worth 
ten pounds to me, just now." 

" Why, dear Hucky ! 'ponmy soul, 
'tis worth a hundred to me ! Mrs. 
Squallop will sell me out, bag and 
baggage, if I don't give her something 
to-morrow ! " — 

"Well, if I really thought — would 
you mind giving me, now, a bit of 
black and white for it ? " 

" I'll do anything you like ; only let 
me feel the ten shillings in my fingers ! ' ' 

" Well, no sooner said than done, 
if you're a man of your word," said 
Huckaback, in a trice producing a bit 
of paper, and a pen and ink. "So, 
only just for the fun of it ; but — 
Lord ! what stuff ! — I'm only bargain- 
ing for a hundred pounds of moon- 
shine. Ha, ha ! I shall never see the 
colour of your money, not I ; so I may 
as well say two hundred when I'm 
about it, as one hundred " 

"Why, hem ! Two hundred, Huck, 
is rather a large figure ; one hun- 
dred's odds enough, I'm sure ! " quoth 
Titmouse meekly. 

" P'r'aps, Tit, you forget the licking 
you gave me the other day," said 
Huckaback with sudden sternness. 
" Suppose I was to go to an attorney, 
and get the law of you, what a sight 
of damages I should have — three 
hundred pounds at least ! " 

Titmouse appeared even yet hesi- 
tating. 



"Well, then!" said Huckaback, 
flinging down his pen, "suppose I 
have them yet " 

"Come, come, Hucky, 'tis all past 
and gone, all that " 

"Is it? Well, I never! I shall 
never be again the same man I was 
before that 'ere licking. I've a sort 
of a — a — of a — feeling inside, as if — 
my breast was — I shall carry it to my 
grave — curse me if I sba'n't ! " 

[It never once occurred to Titmouse, 
not having his friend Mr. Gammon at 
his elbow, that the plaintiff in the 
action of Huckaback v. Titmouse 
might have been slightly at a loss for 
a witness of the assault ; but some- 
thing quite as good in its way — a 
heaven-sent suggestion — did occur to 
him.] 

"Ah," said Titmouse suddenly, 
" that's true ; and uncommon sorry am 
I ; but still, a hundred pounds is a 
hundred pounds, and a large sum for 
the use of ten shillings, and a licking ; 
but never you think it's all moonshine 
about my business with Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap ! You should 
only have heard what I've heard to- 
day from those gents ; hem ! but I 
won't split again either." 

"Eh? What? Heard from those 
gents at Saffron Hill ? " interrupted 
Huckaback briskly; "come, Titty, 
out with it — out with it ; no secrets 
between friends, Titty ! " 

" No, I'll be hanged if I do— I won't 
spoil it all again ; and now, since I've 
let out as much, which I didn't mean 
to do, I'll tell you something else — ten 
shillings is no use to me, I must have 
a pound." 

"Titty, Titty!" exclaimed Hucka- 
back, with unaffected concern. 

"And won't give more than fifty 
for it when I get my property either " 

[Huckaback whistled aloud, and 

with a significant air buttoned up the 
pocket which contained the money ; 
intimating that now the negotiation 
was all at an end, for that Titmouse's 
new terms were quite out of the ques- 
tion ;] ' ' for I know where I can get 
twenty pounds easily, only I like to 
come to & friend first." 

"You aren't behaving much like a 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR 



75 



friend to one as has always been a fast 
friend of yours, Titty ! A pound, ! — I 
haven't got it to part with, that's flat ; 
so, if that's your figure, why, you must 
even go to your other friend, and leave 
poor Hucky ! " 

"Well, I don't mind saying only 
ten shillings," quoth Titmouse, fear- 
ing that he had been going on rather 
too fast. 

"Ah, that's something reasonable- 
like, Titty ! and to meet you like a 
friend, I'll take fifty pounds instead of 
a hundred ; but you won't object now 
to — you know — a deposit ; that ring 
of yours, — well, well ! it don't signify, 
since it goes against you : so now, here 
goes, a bit of paper for ten shillings, 
ha, ha ! " and taking a pen, after a 
pause, in which he called to mind as 
much of the phraseology of money se- 
curities as he could, he drew up the 
following stringent document : — 

"Know all Men That you are Bound 
to Mr. R. Huckaback Promising The 
Bearer (on Demand) To Pay Fifty 
Pounds in cash out of the Estate, if 
you Get it. (Value received.) 

"(Witness,) 22d July, 18—. 
"E. Huckaback." 

"There, Titty — if you're an honest 
man, and would do as you would be 
done by," said Huckaback, after sign- 
ing his own name as above, handing 
the pen to Titmouse, "sign that ; just 
to show your honour, like — for, in 
course, I sha'n't ever come on you for 
the money — get as much as you may." 

A blessed thought occurred to poor 
Titmouse in his extremity, viz. that 
there was no stamp on the above in- 
strument, (and he had never seen a 
promissory-note or bill of exchange 
withoutone ;)and hesigned itinstantly, 
with many fervent expressions of gra- 
titude. Huckaback received the valu- 
able security with apparently a careless 
air ; and after cramming it into his 
pocket, as if it had been in reality only 
a bit of waste paper, counted out 
ten shillings into the eager hand of 
Titmouse ; who, having thus most 
unexpectedly succeeded in his mission, 
soon afterwards departed — each of this 
pair of worthies fancying that he 



had succeeded in cheating the other. 
Huckaback, having very cordially 
shaken Titmouse by the hand, heartily 
damned him upon shutting the door 
on him ; and then anxiously perused 
and re-perused his "security," wonder- 
ing whether it was possible for Titmouse 
at any time thereafter to evade it, and 
considering by what means he could 
acquaint himself with the progress of 
Titmouse's affairs. The latter gentle- 
man, as he hurried homeward, dwelt 
for a long while upon only one thought 
— how fortunate was the omission of 
his friend to have a stamp upon his 
security ! When and where, thought 
he, was it that he had heard that 
nothing would do without a stamp ? 
However, he had got the ten shillings 
safe ; and Huckaback might wait for 
his fifty pounds till — but in the mean 
while he, Titmouse, seemed to stand a 
fair chance of going to the dogs ; the 
ten shillings, which he had just ob- 
tained with so much difficulty, were 
to find their way immediately into the 
pockets of his landlady, whom it might 
pacify for a day or two, and what 
quarter was he now to look to for the 
smallest assistance ? What was to 
become of him ? Titmouse was a 
miserable fool ; but thoughts such as 
these, in such circumstances as his, 
would force themselves into the mind 
of even a fool ! How could he avoid — 
oh, horrid thought ! — soon parting 
with, or at least pawning, his ring and 
his other precious trinkets ? He burst 
into a perspiration at the mere thought 
of seeing them hanging ticketed for 
sale in the window of old Balls ! As 
he slowly ascended the stairs which 
led to his apartment, he felt as if he 
were following some unseen conductor 
to a dungeon. 

He was not aware that all this while, 
although he heard nothing from them, 
he occupied almost exclusively the 
thoughts of those distinguished prac- 
titioners in the law, Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap. They, in common 
with Huckaback, had an intense desire 
to share in his anticipated good fortune, 
and determined to do so according to 
their opportunities. The excellent 
Huckaback (a model of a usurer on a 



76 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR 



small scale) had promptly and adroitly 
seized hold of the very first opportunity 
that presented itself, for securing a 
little return hereafter for the ten shil- 
lings, with which he had so generously 
parted when he could so ill afford it ; 
while Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap were racking their brains, and, 
from time to time, those of Messrs. 
Mortmain and Frankpledge, to discover 
some instrument strong and large 
enough to cut a fat slice for themselves 
out of the fortune they were endeavour- 
ing, for that purpose, to put within 
the reach of Mr. Titmouse. A rule of 
three mode of stating the matter would 
be thus : as the inconvenience of Huck- 
aback's parting with his ten shillings 
and his waiver of damages for a very 
cruel assault, were to his contingent 
gain, hereafter, of fifty pounds ; so 
were Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap's risk, exertions, outlay, and 
benefit conferred on Titmouse, to their 
contingent gain of ten thousand 
pounds. The principal point of differ- 
ence between them was — as to the mode 
of securing their future recompense ; 
in which it may have been observed 
by the attentive reader, with respect 
to the precipitancy of Huckaback and 
hesitating caution of Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap, that • — ' ' thus 
fools" (e. g. Huckaback) "'rushed in 
where angels " (i. e. Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap) "feared to tread." 
Let me not, however, for a moment, 
insinuate that both these parties were 
actuated by only one motive, i. e. to 
make a prey of this little monkey 
millionnairc that was to be. 'Tis true 
that Huckaback appears to have driven 
rather a hard bargain with his dis- 
tressed friend, (and almost every one 
that, being similarly situated, has 
occasion for such services as Titmouse 
sought from Huckaback, will find 
himself called upon to pay pretty 
nearly the same price for them ;) but 
it was attended v\ ith one good effect ; — 
for the specific interest in Titmouse's 
future prosperity, acquired by Huck- 
aback, quickened his energies and 
sharpened his wits in the service of his 
friend. But for this, indeed, it is 
probable that Mr. Huckaback's door 



would have become as hopelessly closed 
against Titmouse as was that of Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap. Some 
two or three nights after the little 
transaction between the two friends 
which I have been describing, Huck- 
aback called upon Titmouse, and after 
greeting him rather cordially, told him 
that he had come to put him up to a 
trick upon the Saffron Hill people, 
that would tickle them into a little 
activity in his affairs. The trick w :s — 
the sending a letter to those gentlemen 
calculated to — but why attempt to 
characterize it ? I have the original 
document lying before me, which was 
sent by Titmouse the very next morn- 
ing to Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap ; and here follows a verbatim 
copy of it : — 

"No. 9, Closet Court, 

Oxford Street. 
" To Messrs. Quirk & Co. 
"Gents, — Am Sorry to Trouble You, 
But Being Drove quite desperate at my 
Troubles (which have brot me to my 
Last Penny a Week ago) and Mrs. 
Squallop my Landlady wd distrain on 
Me only that There Is nothing to dis- 
train on, Am Determined to Go Abroad 
in a Week's Time, and shall Never 
come Any More back again with Great 
Grief wh Is What I now Write To tell 
You Of (Hoping you will please Take 
No notice of It) So Need give Your- 
selves No Further Concern with my 
Concerns Seeing The Estate is Not To 
Be Had and Am Sorry you Shd Have 
Had so Much trouble with My Affairs 
wh c d n ot Help. Slid have Much 
liked The Thing, only it Was Not 
worth Stopping For, or Would, but 
Since It Was not God's Will be Done 
which it will. Havg raised a Trifle 
On my Future Prospects (wh am Certain 
There is Nothing In) from a True 
Friend" [need it be guessed at whose 
instance these words found their way 
into the letter?] "wh was certainly 
uncommon inconvenient to That Person 
But He wd do Anything to Do me good 
As he says Am going to raise A Little 
More from a Gent Tiiat does Things of 
That Nature wh will help me with Ex- 
pense in Going Abroad (which place I 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



11 



Never mean to Return from). Have 
fixed for the 10th To Go on wh Day Shall 
Take leave Of Mr. Tag-rag (who on my 
Return Shall be glad to See Buried or 
in the Workhouse). Have wrote This 
letter Only to Save Yr Respectable 
Selves trouble wh Trust You wd not 
have Taken. 

"And Remain, 
"Gents, 
"Yr humble Unworthy servant, 
"T. Titmouse. 

" P.S. — Hope you will Particularly 
Remember me to Mr. Gammon. What 
is to become of me, know nothing, 
being so troubled. Am Humbly De- 
termined not to employ any Gents in 
This matter except y r most Respecta- 
ble House, and shd be most Truly Sorry 
to Go Abroad whh am really Often 
thinking of in Earnest. (Unless some- 
thing Speedily Turns Up, favourable), 
T. T.— Slid like (By the way) to know 
if you slid be so Disposed what yr 
resp e house wd take for my Chances 
Down {Out and out) In a Round Sum 
{Ready Money) And hope if they 
Write It will be by Next Post or Shall 
be Gone Abroad." 

Old Mr. Quirk, as soon as he had 
finished the perusal of this skilful 
document, started, a little disturbed, 
from his seat, and bustled into Mr. 
Gammon's room with Mr. Titmouse's 
open letter in his hand. — "Gammon," 
said he, ' ' just cast your eye over this, 
will you ? Really, we must look after 
Titmouse, or he'll be gone ! " Mr. 
Gammon took the letter rather eager- 
ly, read deliberately through it, and 
then looked up at his fidgety partner, 
who stood anxiously eyeing him, and 
smiled. 

"Well, Gammon, I really think — 
eh ? Don't you " 

"Upon my word, Mr. Quirk, this 
nearly equals his former letter ; and it 
also seems to have produced on you 
the desired effect." 

"Well, Gammon, and what of that ? 
Because my heart don't happen to be 
quite a piece of flint, you're always—" 

" You might have been a far wealth- 
ier man than you are but for that soft 



heart of yours, Mr. Quirk," — said Gam- 
mon with a bland smile. (!) 

" I know I might, Gammon — I know 
it. I thank my God I'm not so keen 
after business that I can't feel for this 
poor soul— really, his state's quite 
deplorable ! " 

" Then, my dear sir, put your hand 
into your pocket at once, as I was 
suggesting last night, and allow him a 
weekly sum." 

"A — hem! hem! Gammon" — said 
Quirk, sitting down, thrusting his 
hands into his waistcoat pockets, and 
looking very earnestly at Gammon. 

"Well, then," replied that gentle- 
man, shrugging his shoulders, in 
answer to the mute appeal — '"write 
and say you won't — 'tis soon done, and 
so the matter ends." 

"Why, Gammon, you see, if he 
goes abroad," said Quirk, after a long 
pause — "we lose him for ever." 

" Pho ! — go abroad ! He's too much 
for you, Mr. Quirk — he is indeed, ha, 
ha!" 

"You're fond of a laugh at my 
expense, Gammon ; it's quite pleasant 
— you can't think how I like that 
same laugh of yours ! " 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Quirk — 
but you really misunderstand me ; I 
was laughing only at the absurd incon- 
sistency of the fellow : he's a most 
transparent little fool, and takes us 
for such. Go abroad ! Ridiculous 
pretence ! — In his precious postscript 
he undoes all — he says he is only often 
thinking of going — pshaw ! — That the 
wretch is in great distress, is very pro- 
bable ; but it must go hard with him 
before he either commits suicide or 
goes abroad, I warrant him : I've no 
fears on that score — but there is a 
point in the letter that may be worth 
considering — I mean the fellow's hint 
about borrowing money on his pros- 
pects." 

" Yes, to be sure — the very thing 
that struck me." [Gammon faintly 
smiled.] " I never thought much, 
about the other part of the letter — all 
stuff about going abroad — pho ! — But 
to be sure, if he's trying to raise money, 
he may get into keen hands. — Do you 
really think he has? " 



78 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAH. 



"Oh no — of course it's only a little 
lie of his — or he must have found out 
some greater fool than himself, which 
I had not supposed possible. But 
however that may be, I really think, 
Mr. Quirk, it's high time that we 
should take some decided step." 

""Well, — yes, it may be, "said Quirk, 
slowly — "and I must say that Mort- 
main encouraged me a good deal the 
day before yesterday." 

"Well, and you know what Mr. 

Frankpledge ' ' 

" Oh, as to Frankpledge — hem ! " 
"What of Mr. Frankpledge, Mr. 
Quirk ? " enquired Gammon, rather 
tartly. 

" There ! There ! —Always the way 
— but what does it signify ? Come, 
come, Gammon, we know each other 
too well to quarrel!— I don't mean 
anything disrespectful to Mr. Frank- 
pledge, but when Mortmain has been 
one's conveyancer these twenty years, 
and never once — hem ! — but, however, 
he tells me that we are now standing 
on sure ground, or that he don't know 
what sure ground is, and sees no ob- 
jection to our even taking preliminary 
steps in the matter, which indeed I 
begin to think it high time to do ! — 
And as for securing ourselves in respect 
of any advances to Titmouse — he sug- 
gests our taking a bond, conditioned 
— say, for the payment of £500 or 
£1000 on demand, under cover of 
which one might advance him, you 
know, just such sums as, and when 
we pleased ; one could stop when one 
thought fit ; one could begin with 
three or four pounds a-week, and in- 
crease as his prospects improved — 
eh ! " 

"You know I've no objection to 
such an arrangement ; but consider, 
Mr. Quirk, we must have patience ; it 
will take a long while to get our ver- 
dict, you know, and perhaps as long to 
secure it afterwards ; and this horrid 
little wretch all the while on our hands ; 
what the deuce to do with him, I really 
don't know ! " 

' ' Humph, humph ! ' ' grunted Quirk, 
looking very earnestly and uneasily at 
Gammon. 

"And what I chiefly fear is this, — 



suppose he should get dissatisfied with 
the amount of our advances, and, 
knowing the state and prospects of the 
cause, should then turn restive V 

" Ay, confound it, Gammon, all that 
should be looked to, shouldn't it ? " 
interrupted Quirk, with an exceedingly 
chagrined air. 

"To be sure," continued Gammon 
thoughtfully ; "by that time he may 
have got substantial friends about him, 
whom he could persuade to become 
security to us for further and past 
advances." 

' ' Nay, now you name the thing, 
Gammon ; it was what I was thinking 
of only the other day : " he dropped 
his voice — " Isn't there one or two of 

our own clients, hem ! " 

"Why, certainly, there's old Fang ; 
I don't think it impossible he might 
be induced to do a little usury — it's 
all he lives for, Mr. Quirk ; and the 
security is good in reality, though 
perhaps not exactly marketable." 

"Nay; but, on second thoughts, 
why not do it myself, if anything can 
be made of it ? " 

"That, however, will be for future 
consideration. In the mean time, 
we'd better send for Titmouse, and. 
manage him a little more — discreetly, 
eh ? We did not exactly hit it off last 
time, did we, Mr. Quirk ? " said Gam- 
mon, smiling rather sarcastically. 
" We must keep him at Tag-rag's, if 
the thing can be done for the present, 
at all events." 

" To be sure ; he couldn't then come 
buzzing about us, like a gad-fly ; he'd 
drive us mad in a week, I'm sure." 

"Oh, I'd rather give up everything 
than submit to it. It can't be difficult 
for us, I should think, to bind him to 
our own terms— to put a bridle in the 
ass's mouth ? Let us say that we in- 
sist on his signing an undertaking to 
act implicitly according to our direc- 
tions in everything." 

" Ay, to be sure ; on pain of our 
instantly turning him to the right 
about. I fancy it will do now ! " 

"And, now, Mr. Quirk," said Gam- 
mon, with as much of peremptoriness 
in his tone as he could venture upon 
to Mr. Quirk, "you really must do me 



ten thousand a-year. 



79 



the favour to leave the management of 
this little wretch to me. You see, he 
seems to have taken — Heaven save the 
mark ! — a fancy to me, poor fellow ! — 
and — and — it must be owned, we mis- 
carried sadly, the other night, on a 
certain grand occasion — eh ? " 

Quirk shook his head dissentingly. 

"Well, then," continued Gammon, 
"one thing I am determined on : one 
or the other of us shall undertake Tit- 
mouse, solely and singly. Pray, for 
Heaven's sake, tackle him yourself — 
a disagreeable duty ! You know, my 
dear sir, how invariably I leave every- 
thing of real importance and difficulty 
to your very superior tact and ex- 
perience." 

" Come, come, Gammon, that's a 
drop of sweet oil " 

Quirk might well say so, for he felt 
its softening, smoothing effects already. 

" Upon my word and honour, Mr. 
Quirk, I'm in earnest. Pshaw ! — and 
you must know it. I know you too 
well, my dear sir, to attempt to- " 

" Certainly, I must say, those must 
get up very early that can find Caleb 
Quirk napping," — Gammon felt at 
that moment that for several years he 
must have been a very early riser. 
And so the matter was arranged in the 
manner which Gammon had wished 
and determined upon, i. e. that Mr. 
Titmouse should be left entirely to his 
management ; and, after some little 
discussion as to the time and manner 
of the meditated advances, the part- 
ners parted. On entering his own 
room, Quirk closing his door, stood 
leaning against the side of the win- 
dow, with his hands in his pockets, 
and his eyes instinctively resting on 
his banker's book, which lay on the 
table. He was in a very brown study : 
the subject on which his thoughts were 
busied being the prudence or impru- 
dence of leaving Titmouse thus in the 
hands of Gammon. It might be all 
very well for Quirk to assert his self- 
confidence when in Gammon's presence, 
but he did not really feel it. He never 
left Gammon after any little difference 
of opinion, however friendly, without 
a secret suspicion that somehow or 
another Gammon had been too much 



for him, and always gained his purposes, 
without giving Quirk any handle of 
dissatisfaction. In fact, Quirk was 
thoroughly afraid of Gammon, and 
Gammon knew it. In the present in- 
stance, an undefinable but increasing 
suspicion and dissatisfaction forced 
him presently back again into Gam- 
mon's room. 

"I say, Gammon, you understand, 
eh ? — Fair play, you know," he com- 
menced, with a shy embarrassed air, 
ill concealed under a forced smile. 

" Pray, Mr. Quirk, what may be 
your meaning 1 " enquired Gammon 
with unusual tartness, with an aston- 
ished air, and blushing violently, 
which was not surprising ; for ever 
since Quirk had quitted him, Gam- 
mon's thoughts had been occupied with 
only one question, viz. how he should 
go to work with Titmouse to satisfy 
him that he (Gammon) was the only 
member of the firm that had a real 
disinterested regard for him, and so 
acquire a valuable control over him. 
Thus occupied, the observation of 
Quirk had completely taken Gammon 
aback ; and he lost his presence of 
mind, of course his temper quickly 
following. ' ' Will you favour me, Mr. 
Quirk, with an explanation of your 
extraordinarily absurd and offensive 
observation ? " said he, reddening more 
and more as he looked at Mr. Quirk. 

"You're a queer hand, Gammon," 
replied Quirk, with almost an equally 
surprised and embarrassed air, for he 
could not resist a sort of conviction 
that Gammon had fathomed what had 
been passing in his mind. 

"What did you mean, Mr. Quirk, 
by your singular observation just 
now ? " said Gammon calmly, having 
recovered his presence of mind. 

"Mean? Why, that — we're loth 
queer hands, Gammon, ha, ha, ha ! " 
answered Quirk, with an anxious laugh. 

' ' I shall leave Titmouse entirely — 
entirely, Mr. Quirk, in your hands ; 
I will have nothing whatever to do 
with him. I am quite sick of him 
and his affairs already ; I cannot bring 
myself to undertake such an affair, and 
that was what I was thinking of,— 
when " ' 



80 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



"Eh? indeed! "Well, to be sure! 
Only think ! " said Quirk, dropping 
his voice, looking to see that the two 
doors were shut, and resuming the 
chair which he had lately quitted. 
"What do you think has been ocour- 
ring to me in my own room, just now ? 
Whether it would suit us better to 
throw this monkey overboard, put 
ourselves confidentially in communi- 
cation with the party in possession, 
and tell him that — hem ! — for a — eh ? 
You understand ? — a con-si-de-ra-tion 
— a suitable con-si-de-ra-tion." 

"Mr. Quirk! Heavens!" Gam- 
mon was really amazed. 

"Well? You needn't open your 
eyes so very wide, Mr. Gammon — 
why shouldn't it be done ? You know 
we shouldn't be satisfied with a trifle, 
of course. But suppose he'd agree to 
buy our silence with four or five thou- 
sand pounds, really, it's well worth 
considering ! Upon my soul, Gam- 
mon, it is a hard thing on him ; no 
fault of his, and it is very hard for 
him to turn out, and for such a — 
eugh ! — such a wretch as Titmouse ; 
you'd feel it yourself, Gammon, if you 
were in his place, and I'm sure you'd 
think that four or five thous " 

" But is not Titmouse our Poor 
Neighbour ? " said Gammon, with a 
sly smile. 

" Why, that's only one way of look- 
ing at it, Gammon ! Perhaps the man 
we are going to eject does a vast deal 
of good with the property ; certainly 
he bears a very high name in the 
county — and fancy Titmouse with ten 
thousand a-year ! " 

" Mr. Quirk, Mr. Quirk, it's not to 
be thought of for a moment — not for 
a moment," interrupted Gammon 
seriously, and even somewhat peremp- 
torily — "nothing should persuade me 
to be any party to such " 

At this moment Snap burst into the 
room with a heated appearance, and a 
chagrined air— — 

''Pitchy. Grub " 

[This was a little pet action of poor 
Snap's : it was for slander uttered by 
the defendant (an ostler) against the 
plaintiff, (a waterman on a coach- 
stand,) charging the plaintiff with 



havingrAe mange, on account of which 
a woman refused to marry him.] 

"Pitch v. Grub — just been tried at 
Guildhall. Witness bang up to the 
mark — words and special damage 
proved ; slapping speech from Sergeant 
Shout. Verdict for plaintiff— but only 
one farthing ; and Lord Widdrington 
said, as the jury had given one 
farthing for damages, he would give 
him another for costs,* and that would 
make a halfpenny ; on which the 
defendant's attorney tendered me — a 
halfpenny on the spot. Laughter in 
court — move for new trial first day of 
next term, and tip his lordship a 
rattler in the next Sunday's Flash ! " 

"Mr. Quirk, once for all, if these 
kind of actions are to go on, I'll leave 
the firm, come what will." [It 
flickered across his mind that Titmouse 
would be a capital client to start 
with on his own account.] "I protest 
our names will quite stink in the 
profession." 

"Good, Mr. Gammon, good!" 
interposed Snap, warmly ; ' ' your little 
action for the usury penalties the other 
day came off so uncommon well ! " 

" Let me tell you, Mr. Snap," inter- 
rupted Gammon, reddening 

" Pho ! Come! Can't be helped — 
fortune of the war," — interrupted the 
head of the firm, — "Is Pitch solvent? 
— of course we've security for costs 
out of pocket." 

Now, the fact was, that poor Snap 
had picked up Pitch at one of the 
police offices, and, in his zeal for 
business, had undertaken his case on 
pure speculation, relying on the ap- 
parent strength of the plaintiff's case 
— Pitch being only a waterman at- 
tached to a coach-stand. When, 

* I suppose myself to be alluding here to 
a very oppressive statute, passed to clip the 
wings of such gentlemen as Mr. Snap, by 
which it is enacted that, in actions for 
slander, if the jury find a verdict under 
forty shillings, e, g. as in the case in the 
text, for one farthing, the plaintiff shall be 
entitled to recover from the defendant only 
as much costs as damages, i. e. another 
farthing ; a provision which has made many 
a poor pettifogger sneak out of court with a 
flea in his ear. Since this was written, a 
still more stringent statute hath been made, 
which, 'tis to be hoped, will put down the 
nuisance. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAB.. 



81 



therefore, . the very ominous question 
of Mr. Quirk met Snap's ear, he 
suddenly happened (at least, he 
thought so) to hear himself called for 
from the clerk's room, and bolted out 
of Mr. Gammon's room rather un- 
ceremoniously. 

f ' ' Snap will be the ruin of the firm, 
Mr. Quirk," said Gammon, with an 
air of disgust. "But I really must 
get on with the brief I'm drawing : 
so, Mr. Quirk, we can talk about 
Titmouse to-morrow ! " 

The brief he was drawing up was 
for a defendant who was going to non- 
suit the plaintiff, (a man with a large 
family, who had kindly lent the 
defendant a considerable sum of 
money,) solely because of the want of 
a stamp. 

Quirk differed in opinion with Gam- 
mon, and, as he resumed his seat at 
his desk, he could not help writing 
the words, "Quirk and Snap," and 
thinking how well such a firm would 
sound and work — for Snap was verily 
a chip of the old block ! 

There will probably never be want- 
ing those who will join in abusing and 
ridiculing attorneys and solicitors. 
"Why ? In almost every action at law, 
or suit in equity, or proceeding which 
may, or may not, lead to one, each 
client conceives a natural dislike for 
his opponent's attorney or solicitor. 
If the plaintiff succeeds, he hates the 
defendant's attorney for putting him 
(the said plaintiff) to so much expense, 
and causing him so much vexation 
and danger ; and, when he comes to 
settle with his own attorney, there is 
not a little heart-burning in looking 
at his bill of costs, however reasonable. 
If the plaintiff fails, of course it is 
through the ignorance and unskilful- 
ness of his attorney or solicitor ; and 
he hates almost equally his own and 
his opponent's attorney. Precisely so 
is it with a successful or unsuccess- 
ful defendant. In fact, an attorney 
or solicitor is almost always obliged 
to be acting adversely so some one 
of whom he at once makes an 
enemy ; f° r an attorney's weapons 
must necessarily be pointed almost 
invariably at our pockets ! Ho is 



necessarily, also, called into action in 
cases when all the worst passions of 
our nature — our hatred and revenge, 
and our self-interest — are set in motion. 
Consider the mischief that might be 
constantly done on a grand scale in 
society, if the vast majority of attor- 
neys and solicitors were not honour- 
able and able men ! Conceive them, 
for a moment, disposed everywhere to 
stir up litigation, by availing them- 
selves of their perfect acquaintance 
with almost all men's circumstances — 
artfully inflaming irritable and vin- 
dictive clients, kindling, instead of 
stifling, family dissensions, and 
fomenting public strife — why, were 
they to do only a hundredth part of 
what it is thus in their power to do, 
our courts of justice would soon be 
doubled, together with the number of 
our judges, counsel, and attorneys ; 
new jails must be built to hold the 
ruined litigants — and the insolvent 
court enlarged, and in constant session 
throughout the year. 

But not all of this body of honour- 
able and valuable men are entitled to 
this tribute of praise. There are a 
few Quirks, several Gammons, and 
many Snaps, in the profession of the 
law — men whose characters and doings 
often make fools visit the sins of 
individuals upon the whole species ; 
nay, there are far worse, as I have 
heard — but I must return to my 
narrative. 

On Friday night, the 28th July, 
18 — , the state of Mr. Titmouse's 
affairs was this ; he owed his landlady 
£1, 9s. ; his washerwoman, 6s. ; his 
tailor, £1, 8s. — in all, three guineas ; 
besides 10s. to Huckaback, (for Tittle- 
bat's notion was, that on re-payment 
at any time of 10s., Huckaback would 
be bound to deliver up to him the 
document or voucher which he had 
given him,) and a weekly accruing 
rent of 7s. to his landlady, besides 
some very small sums for washing, 
tea, bread, and butter, &c. To meet 
these serious liabilities, he had — not 
one farthing. 

On returning to his lodgings that 
night, he found a line from Thumb- 
screw, his landlady's broker, informing 

G 



82 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR." 



him that, unless by ten o'clock on the 
next morning his arrears of rent were 
paid, he should distrain, and she 
would also give him notice to quit at 
the end of the week : that nothing 
could induce her to give him further 
time. He sat down in dismay on 
reading this threatening document ; 
and, in sitting down, his eye fell on a 
bit of paper lying on the floor, which 
must have been thrust under the door. 
From the marks on it, it was evident 
that he must have trod upon it in 
entering. It proved to be a summons 
from the Court of Requests, for £1, 8s. 
due to Job Cox, his tailor. He de- 
posited it mechanically on the table ; 
and for a minute he dared hardly 
breathe. 

This seemed something really like 
a crisis. 

After a silent agony of half an 
hour's duration, he rose trembling 
from his chair, blew out his candle, 
and, in a few minutes' time, might 
have been seen standing with a pale 
and troubled face before the window 
of old Balls, the pawnbroker, peering 
through the suspended articles — 
watches, sugar-tongs, rings, brooches, 
spoons, pins, bracelets, knives and 
forks, seals, chains, &e. — to see 
whether any one else than old Balls 
were within. Having at length 
watched out a very pale and wretched- 
looking woman, Titmouse entered to 
take her place ; and after inter- 
changing a few faltering words with 
the white-haired and hard-hearted old 
pawnbroker, produced his guard-chain, 
his breast-pin, and his ring, and 
obtained three pounds two shillings 
and sixpence on the security of them. 
With this sum he slunk out of the 
shop, and calling on Oox, his tailor, 
paid his trembling old creditor the 
full amount of his claim (£1, 8s.) 
together with 4s., the expense of the 
summons— simply asking for a receipt, 
without uttering another word, for he 
felt almost choked. In the same way 
he dealt with Mrs. Squallop, his 
landlady— not uttering one word in 
reply to her profuse and voluble 
apologies, but pressing his lips between 
his teeth till the blood came from 



them, while his Tieart seemed bursting 
within him. Then he walked up- 
stairs, with a desperate air — with 
eighteenpence in his pocket — all his 
ornaments gone — his washerwoman 
yet unpaid — his rent going on — several 
other little matters unsettled ; and 
the 10th of August approaching, when 
he expected to be dismissed penniless 
from Mr. Tag-rag's, and thrown on his 
own resources for subsistence. When 
he had regained his room, and, having 
shut the door, had re-seated himself 
at his table, he felt for a moment as 
if he could have yelled. Starvation 
and Despair, two fiends, seemed sit- 
ting beside him in shadowy ghastli- 
ncss, chilling and palsying him — 
petrifying his heart within him. 
What was he to do ? Why had he 
been born ? Why was he so much 
more persecuted and miserable than 
any one else ? Visions of his ring, his 
breast-pin, his studs, stuck in a bit of 
card, with their price written above 
them, and hanging exposed to his view 
in old Balls' window, almost frenzied 
him. Thoughts such as these at 
length began to suggest others of a 
dreadful nature. * * * The means 
were at that instant within his reach. 
* * * A sharp knock at the door 
startled him out of the stupor into 
which he was sinking. He listened 
for a moment, as if he were not certain 
that the sound was a real one. There 
seemed a ton-weight upon his heart, 
which a mighty sigh could lift for an 
instant, but not remove ; and he was 
in the act of heaving a second such 
sigh, as he languidly opened the door 
— expecting to encounter Mr. Thumb- 
screw, or some of his myrmidons, who 
might not know of his recent settle- 
ment with his landlady. 

" Is this Mr.— Tit— Titmouse's ? " 
enquired a genteel-looking young man. 

" Yes," replied Titmouse, sadly. 

" Are you Mr. Titmouse ? " 

"Yes," he replied, more faintly 
than before. 

' ' Oh — I have brought you, sir, a 
letter from Mr. Gammon, of the firm 
of Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, solicit- 
ors, Saffron Hill," said the stranger, 
unconscious that his words shot a 



TEN THOU SAW JD A-VEAli. 



83 



flash of light into a little abyss of 
sorrow before him. "He begged nie 
to give this letter into your own hands, 
and said he hoped you'd send him an 
answer by the first morning's post." 

"Yes — oh — I see — certainly — to be 
sure — with pleasure — how is Mr. Gam- 
mon ? — uncommon kind of him — very 
bumble respects to him — take care to 
answer it," stammered Titmouse in a 
breath, hardly knowing whether he 
was standing on his head or his heels, 
and not quite certain where he was. 

"Good evening, sir," replied the 
stranger, evidently a little surprised 
at Titmouse's manner, and withdrew. 
Titmouse shut his door. With pro- 
digious trepidation of hand and flutter 
of spirits, he opened the letter — an 
enclosure meeting his eyes in the 
shape of a bank-note. 

" Oh Lord ! " lie murmured, turning 
white as the sheet of paper he held. 
Then the letter dropped from his hand, 
and he stood as if stupefied for some 
moments ; but presently rapture darted 
through him ; a five-pound bank-note 
was in his hand, and it had been 
enclosed in the following letter : — 

"35 Thavies' Inn, 2$th July, 18—. 

' ' My dear Mr. Titmouse, 

"Your last note, addressed to our 
firm, has given me the greatest pain, 
and I hasten, on my return from the 
country, to forward you the enclosed 
trifle, which I sincerely hope will be 
of temporary service to you. May I 
beg the favour of your company on 
Sunday evening next, at seven o'clock, 
to take a glass of wine with me ? I 
shall be quite alone and disengaged ; 
and may have it in my power to make 
you some important communications, 
concerning matters in which, I assure 
you, I feel a very deep interest on 
your account. Begging the favour of 
an early, answer to-morrow morning, 
1 trust you will believe me, ever, my 
dear sir, your most faithful humble 
servant, 

" Oily Gammon. 
"Tittlebat Titmouse, Esq." 

The first balmy drop of the long- 
expected golden shower had at length 



fal:en upon the panting Titmouse. 
How polite — nay, how affectionate 
and respectful — was the note of Mr. 
Gammon I and, for the first time in 
his life, ho saw himself addressed 

"Tittlebat Titmouse, Esquire." 

If his room had been large enough to 
admit of it, Titmouse would have 
skipped round it again and again in 
his frantic ecstacy. Having at length 
read over and over again the blessed 
letter of Mr. Gammon, he hastily 
folded it up, crumpled up the bank- 
note in his hand, clapped his hat on 
his head, blew out his candle, rushed 
down-stairs as if a mad dog were at 
his heels, and in three or four minutes' 
time was standing breathless before 
old Balls, whom he almost electrified 
by asking, with an eager and joyous 
air, for a return of the articles which 
he had only an hour before pawned 
with him ; at the same time laying 
down the duplicates and the bank- 
note. The latter, old Balls scrutinized 
with most anxious exactness, and even 
suspicion — but it seemed perfectly un- 
exceptionable ; so he gave him back 
his precious ornaments, and the change 
out of his note, minus a trifling sum 
for interest. Titmouse then started 
off at top speed to Huckaback ; but it 
suddenly occurring to him as possible 
that that gentleman, on hearing of liis 
good fortune, might look for an im- 
mediate repayment of the ten shillings 
he had recently lent to Titmouse, he 
stopped short — paused — and returned 
home. There he had hardly been 
seated a moment, when down he pelted 
again, to buy a sheet of paper and a 
waf.r or two, to write his letter to Mr. 
Gammon ; which having obtained, he 
returned at the same speed, almost 
overturning his fat landlady, who 
looked after him as if he were a mad 
cat scampering up and down-stairs, 
and fearing that he had gone suddenly 
crazy. The note he wrote to Mr. 
Gammon was so exceedingly extrava- 
gant, that, candid as I have (I trust) 
hitherto shown myself in the deline- 
ation of Mr. Titmouse's character, I 
cannot bring myself to give the said 
letter to the reader — making all allow- 



84 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



ances for the extraordinary excitement 
of its writer. 

Sleep, that night and morning, 
found and left Mr. Titmouse the as- 
sured exulting master of Ten Thou- 
sand a-Year. Of this fact, the 
oftener he read Mr. Gammon's letter, 
the stronger became his convictions. 
'Twas undoubtedly rather a large in- 
ference from small premises ; but it 
secured him unspeakable happiness, 
for a time, at a possible cost of future 
disappointment and misery, which he 
did not pause to consider. The fact 
is, that logic (according to Dr. "Watts, 
the right use of reason) is not a prac- 
tical art. No one regards it in actual 
life ; observe, therefore, folks on all 
hands constantly acting like Tittlebat 
Titmouse in the case before us. His 
conclusion was — that he had become 
the certain master of ten thousand a- 
year ; his premises were what the 
reader has seen. I do not, however, 
mean to say, that if the reader be a 
youth hot from the University, he 
may not be able to prove, by a very 
refined and ingenious argument, that 
Titmouse was, in what he did above, 
a fine natural logician ; for I recollect 
that some great logician hath demon- 
strated, by a famous argument, that 
there is nothing in the world : and 
no one that I have heard of, hath ever 
been able to prove the contrary. 

By six o'clock the next morning, 
Titmouse had, with his own hand, 
dropped his answer into the letter-box 
upon the door of Mr. Gammon's 
chambers in Thavies' Inn ; in which 
answer he had, with numerous ex- 
pressions of profound respect and grati- 
tude, accepted Mr. Gammon's polite 
invitation. A very happy man felt 
Titmouse, as he returned to Oxford 
Street ; entering Messrs. Tag-rag's 
premises with alacrity, just as they 
were being opened, and volunteering 
his assistance in numerous things be- 
yond his usual province, with singular 
briskness and energy ; as if conscious 
that by doing so he was greatly grati- 
fying Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap, whose wishes upon the subject 
he knew. He displayed such un- 
wonted cheerfulness and patient good- 



nature throughout the day, that one 
of his companions, a serious youth, in 
a white neckerchief, black clothes, and 
with a sanctified, countenance — the 
only professing pious person in the 
establishment — took an occasion to 
ask him, in a mysterious whisper, 
"whether he had not got converted ; " 
and whether he would, at six o'clock 
in the morning, accompany the speaker 
to a room in the neighbourhood, where 
he (the youth aforesaid) was going to 
conduct an exhortation and prayer 
meeting ! Titmouse refused — but not 
without a few qualms ; for luck cer- 
tainly seemed to be smiling on him, 
and he felt that he ought to be grateful 
for it ; but then, he at length reflected, 
the proper place for that sort of thing 
would be a regular church — to which 
he resolved to go. This change of 
manners Tag-rag, however, looked upon 
as assumed only to affront him ; seeing 
nothing but impertinence and defiance 
in all that Titmouse did — as if the 
nearer Titmouse got to the end of his 
bondage — i. e. the 10th of August — the 
lighter hearted he grew. He resolved 
religiously to keep his counsel ; to 
avoid even — at all events for the 
present — communicating with Huck- 
aback. 

On the ensuing Sunday he rose at 
an earlier hour than usual, and took 
nearly twice as long a time as usual to 
dress — by reason of his often falling 
into many delightful reveries. By 
eleven o'clock he might have been 
seen entering the gallery of St. An- 
drew's Church, Holborn ; where he 
considered that doubtless Mr. Gam- 
mon, who lived in the neighbourhood, 
might attend. He asked three or four 
pew-openers, both below and above, if 
they knew which was Mr. Gammon's 
pew — Mr. Gammon of Thavies' Inn ; 
not dreaming of presumptuously going 
to the pew, but of sitting in some place 
that commanded a view of it. Mr. 
Gammon, I need hardly say, was quite 
unknown there — no one had ever heard 
of such a person : nevertheless Tit- 
mouse, albeit a little galled at being, 
in spite of his elegant appearance, 
slipped into a back pew, remained— 
but his thoughts wandered grievously 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



85 



the whole time. The service over, he 
sauntered in the direction of Hyde 
Park, to saunter in which he seemed 
now to have a sort of claim. How 
soon might he become, instead of a 
mere spectator as heretofore, a partaker 
in its glories ! The dawn of the day of 
fortune was on his long-benighted soul ; 
and he could hardly subdue his excited 
feelings. Punctual to his appointment, 
as the clock struck seven he made his 
appearance at Mr. Gammon's, with a 
pair of span-new white kid gloves 
on, and was speedily ushered, a little 
flurried, by a comfortable - looking 
elderly female servant, into Mr. Gam- 
mon's room. Mr. Titmouse was 
dressed just as when he was first pre- 
sented to the reader, sallying forth 
into Oxford Street. Mr. Gammon, 
who was sitting reading the Sunday 
Flash at a table on which stood a 
couple of decanters, several wine- 
glasses, and two or three dishes of 
fruit, rose and received his distin- 
guished visitor with the most delight- 
ful affability. 

"lam most happy, Mr. Titmouse, 
to see you in this friendly way," said 
he, shaking him by the hand. 

"Oh, don't name it, sir," quoth Tit- 
mouse rather indisijnctly, and hastily 
running his hand through his hair. 

"I've nothing, 3'ou see, to offer you 
but a little fruit, and a glass of fair 
port or sherry." 

"Particular fond of them, sir," re- 
plied Titmouse, endeavouring to clear 
his throat ; for in spite of a strong 
effort to appear at his ease, he was 
unsuccessful ; so that, when Gammon's 
keen eye glanced at the bedizened 
figure of his guest, a bitter smile 
passed over his face, without having 
teen observed. " This," thought he. 
as his eye passed from the ring glitter 
ing on the little finger of the right 
hand, to the studs and breast-pin in 
the shirt front, and thence to the 
guard-chain glaring entirely outside a 
damson-coloured satin waistcoat, and 
the spotless white glove which yet 
glistened on the left hand — " This is 
the writer of the dismal epistle of the 
other day, announcing his desperation 
and destitution ! " 



"Your health, Mr. Titmouse ! — help 
yourself ! " said Mr. Gammon, in a 
cheerful and cordial tone ; Titmouse 
pouring out a glass only three-quarters 
full, raised it to his lips with a slight- 
ly tremulous hand, and returned Mr. 
Gammon's salutation. When had 
Titmouse tasted a glass of wine be- 
fore ? — a reflection occurring not only 
to himself, but also to Gammon, to 
whom it was a circumstance that 
might be serviceable. 

"You see, Mr. Titmouse, mine's 
only a small bachelor's establishment, 
and I cannot put my old servant out 
of the way by having my friends to 
dinner " — [quite forgetting that the 
day before he had entertained at least 
six friends, including Mr. Frankpledge 
— but, the idea of going through a 
dinner with Mr. Titmouse ! ] 

And now, O inexperienced Titmouse ! 
unacquainted with the potent qualities 
of wine, I warn you to be cautious how 
you drink many glasses, for you cannot 
calculate the effect which they will 
have upon you ; and, indeed, methinks 
that with this man you have a game 
to play which will not admit of much 
wine being drunk. Be you, therefore, 
on your guard ; for wine is like a 
strong serpent, who will creep unper- 
ceivedly into your empty head, and 
coil himself up therein, until at length 
he moves about — and all things are as 
naught to you ! 

" Oh, sir, 'pon my honour, beg you 
won't name it — all one to me, sir ! — 
Beautiful wine this, sir." 

"Pretty fair, I think — certainly 
rather old ; — but what fruit will you 
take — currants or cherries ? " 

"Why — a — I've so lately dined," 
replied Titmouse, alluding to an ex- 
ceedingly slight repast at a coffee-shop 
about two o'clock. He would have 
preferred the cherries, but did not feel 
quite at his ease how to dispose of the 
stones nicely — gracefully — so he took 
a very few red currants upon his plate, 
and eat them slowly, and with a 
modest air. 

"Well, Mr. Titmouse," commenced 
Gammon with an air of concern, " I 
was really much distressed by your 
last letter," 



86 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



"Uncommon glad to hear it, sir — 
knew you would, sir — you're so kind- 
hearted ; — all quite true, sir ! " 

"I had no idea that you were re- 
duced to such straits," said Gammon 
in a sympathizing tone, but settling 
his eye involuntarily on the ring of 
Titmouse. 

" Quite dreadful, sir — 'pon my soul, 
dreadful ; and such usage at Mr. Tag- 
rag's ! " 

" But you mustn't think of going 
abroad — away from all your friends, 
Mr. Titmouse." 

"Abroad, sir!" interrupted Tit- 
mouse with anxious but subdued eager- 
ness; "neverthoughtofsucha thing! " 

" Oh ! I— I thought ■" 

" There isn't a word of truth in it, 
sir ; and if you've heard so, it must 
have been from that oudacious fellow 
that called on you — he's such a liar — 
if you knew him as well as I do, sir ! " 
said Titmouse with a confident air, 
quite losing sight of his letter to 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap— 
" No, sir — shall stay, and stick to 
friends that stick to me." 

"Take another glass of wine, Mr. 
Titmouse," interrupted Gammon cor- 
dially, and Titmouse obeyed him ; but 
while he was pouring it out, a sudden 
recollection of his letter flashing across 
his mind, satisfied him that he stood 
detected in a flat lie before Mr. Gam- 
mon; and he blushed scarlet. 

" Do you like the sherry ? " enquired 
Gammon, perfectly aware of what was 
passing through the mind of liis guest, 
and wishing to divert his thoughts. 
Titmouse answered in the affirmative ; 
and proceeded to pour forth such a 
number of apologies for his own be- 
haviour at Saffron Hill, and that of 
Huckaback on the subsequent occa- 
sion, as Gammon found it difficult to 
stop, over and over again assuring him 
that all had been forgiven and for- 
gotten. When Titmouse came to the 
remittance of the five pounds 

"Don't mention it, my dear sir," 
interrupted Gammon very blandly ; 
"it gave me, I assure you, far greater 
satisfaction to send it, than you to 
receive it. I hope it has a little re- 
lieved you ? " 



"I think so, sir! I was, 'pen ev 
life, on my very last legs." 

"When things come to the worst, 
they often mend, Mr. Titmouse ! I 
told Mr. Quirk (who, to do him justice, 
came at last into my views) that, how- 
ever premature, and perhaps imprudent 
it might be in us to go so far, I could 
not help relieving your present neces- 
sities, even out of my own resources." 

[Oh, Gammon, Gammon !] 

' ' How uncommon kind of you, sir ! " 
exclaimed Titmouse. 

"Not in the least, my dear sir — 
(pray fill another glass, Mr. Titmouse !) 
You see Mr. Quirk is quite a man of 
business — and our profession too often 
affords instances of persons whose 
hearts contract as their purses expand, 
Mr. Titmouse — ha ! ha ! Indeed, 
those who make their money as hard 
as Mr. Quirk, are apt to be slow at 
parting with it, and very suspicious." 

"Well, I hope no offence, sir ; but 
really I thought as much, directly I 
saw that old gent." 

"Ah — but now he is embarked, 
heart and soul, in the affair." 

"No ! Is he really, sir ? " enquired 
Titmouse, eagerly. 

" That is," replied Gammon quickly, 
"so long as I am at his elbow, urging 
him on — for he wants some one who — 
hem ! In fact, my dear sir, ever since 
I had the good fortune to make the 
discovery, which happily brought us 
acquainted with each other, Mr. Tit- 
mouse," [it was old Quirk who had 
made the discovery, and Gammon had 
for a long time thrown cold water on 
it,] "I have been doing all I could 
with him, and I trust I may- say, 
have at last got the thing into 
shape. " 

"I'll take my oath, sir," said Tit- 
mouse excitedly, "I never was so 
much struck with any one in all my 
born days as I was with you, sir, 
when you first came to my emp — to 
Mr. Tag-rag's, sir — Lord, sir, how 
uncommon sharp you seemed ! " Gam- 
mon smiled with a deprecating air, 
and sipped his wine in silence ; but 
there was great sweetness in the ex- 
pression of his countenance. Poor 
Titmouse's doubts, hopes, and fears, 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



were rapidly subsiding into a reverence 
for Gammon ! * * * * 

"I certainly quite agree with Mr. 
Quirk," said Gammon presently, "that 
the difficulties in our way are of the 
most serious description. To speak, 
for an instant only, of the risk we 
ourselves incur personally — would you 
believe it, my dear Mr. Titmouse ? — 
in such a disgraceful state are our 
laws, that wo can't gratify our feelings 
by taking up your cause, without 
rendering ourselves liable to imprison- 
ment for Heaven knows how long, and 
a fine that would be ruin itself, if we 
should be found out ! " 

Titmouse continued silent, his wine- 
glass in his hand arrested in its way to 
his mouth ; which, together with his 
eyes, were opened to their widest ex- 
tent, as he stared with a kind of terror 
upon Mr. Gammon. — "Are we, then, 
unreasonable, my dear sir, in entreat- 
ing you to be cautious — nay, in insist- 
ing on your compliance with our wishes, 
in all that we shall deem prudent and 
necessary, when not only your own 
best interests, but our characters, 
liberties, and fortunes are staked on 
the issue of this great enterprise ? I 
am sure," continued Gammon, with 
great emotion, "you will foci for us, 
Mr. Titmouse. J see you do ! " Gam- 
mon put his hand over his eyes, in! 
order, apparently, to conceal his 
emotion, but really to observe what 
effect he had produced upon Tit- 
mouse. The conjoint influence of 
Gammon's wine and eloquence not a 
little agitated Titmouse, in whose eyes 
stood tears. 

"I'll do anything — anything, sir," 
he almost sobbed. 

" Oh ! all we wish is to be allowed 
to serve you effectually ; and to enable 
us to do that " 

" Tell me to get into a soot-bag, and 
lie hid in a coal-hole, and see if I won't 
do it ! " 

" What ! a coal-hole ? Would you, 
then, even stop at Tag-rag and Co. 's ? " 

' ' Ye-e-e-e-s, sir — hem ! hem ! That 
is, till the tenth of next month, when 
my time's up." 

" Ay ! — ay ! • — oh, I understand ! 
Another glass, Mr. Titmouse," said 



Gammon, pouring himself out some 
moro wine ; and observing, while Tit- 
mouse followed his example, that there 
was an unsteadiness in his motions of 
a very different description from that 
which he had exhibited at the com- 
mencement of the evening — at the 
same time wondering what the deuce 
they should do with him after the 
tenth of August. 

"You see, /have the utmost confi- 
dence in you, and had so from the first 
happy moment when we met ; but Mr. 

Quirk is rather sus In short, to 

prevent misunderstanding (as he says, ) 
Mr. Quirk is anxious that you should 
give a written promise." (Titmouse 
looked eagerly about for writing ma- 
terials.) " No, not now, but in a day 
or two's time. I confess, my dear Mr. 
Titmouse, if /might have decided on 
the matter, I should have been satis- 
fied with your verbal promise ; but, I 
must say, Mr. Quirk's grey hairs seem 
to have made him quite — eh ? you 
understand ? Don't you think so, Mr. 
Titmouse ? " 

" To be sure ! pon my honour, Mr. 
Gammon ! " replied Titmouse ; not 
very distinctly understanding, how- 
ever, what he was so energetically 
assenting to. 

' ' I dare say you wonder why we 
wish you to stop a few months longer 
at your present hiding-place — at Tag- 
rag's ? " 

"Can't, possibly! — after the tenth 
of next month, sir," replied Titmouse, 
eagerly. 

" But as soon as we begin to fire off 
our guns against the enemy — Lord, 
my dear sir, if they could only find 
out, you know, where to get at you — 
you would never live to enjoy your 
ten thousand a-year ! They'd either 
poison or kidnap you — get you out of 
the way, unless you keep out of their 
way : and if you will but consent to 
keep snug at Tag-rag's for a while, 
who'd suspect where you was? ^We 
could easily arrange with your friend 

Tag-rag that you should " 

"My stars ! I'd give something to 
hear you tell Tag-rag — why, I wonder 
what he'll do ! " 

' ' Make you very comfortable, and 



88 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



let you have your own way in every- 
thing — that you may rely upon ! " 

" Go to the play, for instance, when- 
ever I want, and do all that sort of 
thing ? " 

"Nay, try ! anything ! — And as for 
money, I've persuaded Mr. Quirk to 
consent to our advancing you a certain 
sum per week, from the present time, 
while the cause is going on," — (Tit- 
mouse's heart began to beat fast,) — 
"in order to place you above absolute 
inconvenience ; and when you consider 
the awful sums we shall have to dis- 
burse — cash out of pocket — (the 
tongues of counsel, you know, are set 
on gold springs, and only gold keys 
open their lips!) — for court-fees, and 
other indispensable matters, I should 
candidly say that four thousand pounds 
of hard cash out of pocket, advanced 
by our firm in your case, would be 
the very lowest." (Titmouse stared at 
him with an expression of stupid won- 
der. ) ' ' Yes — four thousand pounds, 
Mr. Titmouse, at the very least — the 
very least." Again he paused, keenly 
scrutinizing Titmouse's features by the 
light of the candles, which just then 
were brought in. "You seem sur- 
prised, Mr. Titmouse." 

" Why — wh} r — where's all the money 
to come from, sir ? " exclaimed Tit- 
mouse, aghast. 

" Ah ! that is indeed a fearful ques- 
tion," replied Gammon, with a very 
serious air; "but at my request, our 
firm has agreed to make the necessary 
advances ; and also (for / could not 
bear the sight of your distress, Mr. Tit- 
mouse !) to supply your necessities 
liberally in the mean time, as I was 
saying." 

" Won't you take another glass of 
wine, Mr. Gammon ? " suddenly en- 
quired Titmouse, with a confident air. 

"With all my heart, Mr. Titmouse ! 
I'm delighted that you approve of it. 
I paid enough for it, I can warrant 
you." 

" Cuss me if ever I tasted such wine ! 
Uncommon ! Come — no heel-taps, 
Mr. Gammon — here goes — let's drink 
—success to the affair ! " 

"With all my heart, my dear sir — 
with all my heart. Success to the 



thing — amen ! " and Gammon drained 
his glass ; so did Titmouse. " Ah ! 
Mr. Titmouse, you'll soon have wine 
enough to float a frigate — and indeed 
what not — with ten thousand a-year ? " 

"And all the back- rents, you know 
— ha, ha ! " 

" Yes — to be sure ! — the back-rents ! 
The sweetest estate that is to be found 
in all Yorkshire ! Gracious, Mr. 
Titmouse ! " continued Gammon, with 
an excited air — "What may you not 
do ? Go where you like — do what you 
like — get into Parliament — marry some 
lovely woman ! " 

"Lord, Mr. Gammon! — you a'n't 
dreaming ? Nor I ? But now, in course, 
you must be paid handsome for your 
trouble ! — Only say how much — Name 
your sum ! What you please ! You 
only give me all you've said. " 

' ' For my part I wish to rely entirely 
on your mere word of honour. Be- 
tween gentlemen, you know — my dear 
sir " 

" You only try me, sir." 

"But you see, Mr. Quirk's getting 
old, and naturally is anxious to provide 
for those whom he will leave behind 
him — and so Mr. Snap agreed with him 
— two to one against me, Mr. Titmouse 
— of course they carried the day — two 
to one." 

"Only say the figure, sir!" cried 
Titmouse, eagerly. 

"A single year's income, only — ten 
thousand pounds will hardly " ■ 

"Ten thousand pounds ! By jingo, 
that is a slice out of the cake ! Oh, 
Lord ! " quoth Titmouse, looking 
aghast. 

' ' A mere crumb, my dear sir ! — a 
trifle ! Why, we are going to give you 
that sum at least every year — and in- 
deed it was suggested to our firm, that 
unless you gave us at least a sum of 
twenty-five thousand pounds — in fact, 
we are recommended to look out for 
some other heir." 

" Oh dear ! oh, Mr. Gammon," cried 
Titmouse, hastily — "it's not to be 
thought of, sir ! " 

"So I said ; and as for throwing it 
up — to be sure we shall have ourselves 
to borrow large sums to carry cr the 
war — and unless we have your boEd, for 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



89 



at least ten thousand pounds, we can- 
not raise a farthing." 

" Well — curse me, if you sha'n't do 
what you like ! — Give me your hand, 
and do what you like, Mr. Gammon ! " 

"Thank you, Mr. Titmouse ! How I 
like a glass of wine with a friend in 
this quiet way ! — you'll always find me 
rejoiced to show " 

" You hand ! By George— Didn't I 
take a liking to you -from the first 1 
But to speak my mind a bit — as for 
Mr. Quirk — excuse me — but he's a cur 
— cur — cur — mudg — mudg — mudg — 
eon — hem ! " 

"Hope you've not been so impru- 
dent, my dear Titmouse, " threw in Mr. 
Gammon, rather anxiously, "as to bor- 
row money — eh ? " 

" Devil knows, and devil cares ! No 
stamp, I know — hangup to the mark" 
— here he winked an eye, and put his 
finger to his nose — "wide awake — 
Huck — uck — uck — uck ! how his name 
sti — sticks. Your hand, Mr. Gammon 
— here — this, this way — what are you 
bobbing your head about for ? Ah, ha ! 
— The floor — 'pon my life ! — how funny 
— it's like being at sea — up, down — oh 
dear ! " — he clapped his hand to his 
head. 

[Pythagoras has finely observed, that 
a man is not to be considered dead 
drunk till he lies on the floor, and 
stretches out his arms and legs to 
prevent his going lower.] 

See-saw, see-saw, up and down, up 
and down, went everything about him. 
Kow he felt sinking through the floor, 
then gently rising to the ceiling. Mr. 
Gammon seemed getting into a mist, 
and waving about the candles in it. 
Mr. Titmouse's head swam ; his chair 
seemed to be resting on the waves 
of the sea. 

" I'm afraid the room's rather close, 
Mr. Titmouse," hastily observed Gam- 
mon, perceiving, from Titmouse's sud- 
den paleness and silence, but too evident 
symptoms that his powerful intellect 
was for a while paralysed. Gammon 
started to the window and opened it. 
Paler, however, and paler became Tit- 
mouse. Gammon's game was up much 
sooner than he had calculated on. 

"Mrs, Brown! Mrs. Brown! order 



a coach instantly, and tell Tomkins " 
— that was the inn porter — "to get his 
son ready to go home with this gentle- 
man — he's not very well." He was 
obeyed. It was, in truth, all up with 
Titmouse — at least for a while. 

As soon as Gammon had thus got rid of 
his distinguished guest, he ordered the 
table to be cleared of the glasses, and 
tea to be ready within half an hour. 
He then walked out to enjoy the cool 
evening ; on returning, sat pleasantly 
sipping his tea, now and then dipping 
into the edifying columns of the 
Sunday Flash, but oftener ruminating 
upon his recent conversation with Tit- 
mouse, and speculating upon certain 
possible results to himself personally ; 
and a little after eleven o'clock, that 
good man, at peace with all the world 
— calm and serene — retired to repose. 
He had that night rather a singular 
dream ; it was of a snake encircling a 
monkey, as if in gentle and playful 
embrace. Suddenly tightening its folds 
a crackling sound, was heard ; the 
writhing coils were then slowly un- 
wound — and, with a shudder, he beheld 
the monster licking over the motion- 
less figure, till it was covered with a 
viscid slime. Then the serpent began 
to devour its prey ; and, when gorged 
and helpless, behold, it was immediately 
fallen upon by two other snakes. To 
his disturbed fancy, there was a dim 
resemblance between their heads and 
those of Quirk and Snap — they all 
three became intertwisted together — 
and writhed and struggled till they fell 
over the edge of a dark and frightful 
precipice — he woke — thank God ! it 
was only a dream. 



CHAPTER V. 

"When, after his return from Mr. 
Gammon's chambers, at Thavies' Inn, 
Titmouse woke at an early hour in the 
morning, he was labouring under the 
ordinary effects of unaccustomed in- 
ebriety. His mouth and lips were 
perfectly parched ; there was a horrid 



90 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



weight pressing on his aching eyes, and 
upon his throbbing head. His pillow 
seemed undulating beneath him, and 
everything swimming around him : 
but when, to crown the whole, he was 
roused from a momentary nap by the 
insupportable — the loathed impor- 
tunities of Mrs. Squallop, that he 
would just sit up and partake of three 
thick rounds of hot buttered toast, and 
a great basin of smoking tea, which 
would do him so much good, and settle 
his stomach — at all events, if he'd 
only have a thimbleful of gin in it — 
poor Titmouse was fairly overcome. 
He lay in bed all that day, during 
which he underwent very severe suffer- 
ings ; and it was not till towards night 
that he began to have anything like 
a distinct recollection of the evening he 
had spent with Mr. Gammon ; who, by 
the way, had sent one of the clerks, 
during the afternoon, to enquire after 
him. He did not get out of bed on 
the Tuesday till past twelve o'clock, 
wheu, in a very rickety condition, he 
made his appearance at the shop of 
Messrs. Tag-rag and Co. ; on approach- 
ing which he felt a sudden faintness, 
arising from mingled apprehension and 
disgust. 

' ' What are you doing here, sir ? — 
You're no longer in my employment, 
sir," exclaimed Tag-rag, attempting to 
speak calmly, as he hurried down the 
shop, white with rage, to meet Tit- 
mouse, and planted himself right in the 
way of his languid and pallid shopman. 

"Sir ! " faintly exclaimed Titmouse, 
with his hat in his hand. 

' ' Very much obliged, sir — very ! by 
the offer of your valuable -services," 
said Tag-rag. "But — that's the way 
out again, sir — that! — there! — good 
morning, sir — good morning, sir! — 
that's the way out" — and he egged on 
Titmouse, till he had got him fairly into 
the street — with infinite difficulty re- 
straining himself from giving him a 
parting kick. Titmouse stood for a 
moment before the door, trembling and 
aghast, looking in a bewildered manner 
at the shop : but Tag-rag again making 
his appearance, Titmouse slowly walked 
away and returned to his lodgings. Oh 
that Mr. Gammon had witnessed the 



scene — thought he — and so have been 
satisfied that it had been Tag-rag who 
had put an end to his service, not he 
himself who had quitted it! 

The next day, about the same hour, 
Mr. Gammon made his appearance 
at the establishment from which Tit- 
mouse had been expelled so sum- 
marily, and enquired for Mr. Tag-rag, 
who presently presented himself — and 
recognising Mr. Gammon, who natur- 
ally reminded him of Titmouse, 
changed colour a little. 

"What did you please to want, 
sir?" enquired Mr. Tag-rag, with a 
would-be resolute air, twirling round 
his watch-key with some energy. 

" Only a few minutes' conversation, 
sir, if you please," said Mr. Gammon, 
with such a significant manner as a 
little disturbed Mr. Tag-rag ; who, 
with an ill-supported sneer, bowed 
very low, and led the way to his own 
little room. Having closed the door, 
he, with an exceedingly civil air, beg- 
ged Mr. Gammon to be seated ; and 
then occupied the chair opposite to 
him, and awaited the issue with ill- 
disguised anxiety. 

"I am very sorry, Mr. Tag-rag," 
commenced Gammon, with his usual 
elegant and feeling manner, ' ' that any 
misunderstanding should have arisen 
between you and Mr. Titmouse." 

"You're a lawyer, sir, I suppose?" 
Mr. Gammon bowed. "Then you 
must know, sir, that there are always 
two sides to a quarrel." 

' ' Yes — you are right, Mr. Tag-rag ; 
and, having already heard Mr. Tit- 
mouse's version, may I be favoured 
with your account of your reasons for 
dismissing him ? For he tells us that 
yesterday you dismissed him suddenly 
from your employment, without giving 
him any warn " 

"So I did, sir ; and what of that?" 
enquired Tag-rag, tossing his head with 
an air of defiance. ' ' Things are come to 
a pretty pass indeed, when a man can't 
dismiss a drunken, idle, impudent, 
impertinent — abusive vagabond " 

' ' Do you seriously charge him with 
being such a character, and can you 
prove your charges, Mr. Tag-rag ? " 
enquired Gammon, gravely. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



91 



" Trove 'em! yes, sir, a hundred 
times over ; so will all my young 
men ! " 

" And in a court of justice, Mr. 
Tag-rag?" 

"Oh! he is going to law, is ho? 
That's why you're come here — ah, 
ha ! — when you can make a silk purse 
out of a sow's ear, you may get your 
bill out of Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse ! — 
ha, ha, ha ! " laughed Tag-rag, hoping 
thereby to conceal how much he was 
really startled. 

"Well — that's our look-out, Mr. 
Tag-rag : to Mr. Titmouse, his charac- 
ter is as valuable as Mr. Tag-rag's is 
to him. In short, he has placed him- 
self in our hands, and we are resolved 
to go on with the case, if it cost us a 
hundred pounds — we are indeed, Mr. 
Tag-rag." 

" Why — he's not a penny in the 
world to go to law with ! " exclaimed 
Tag-rag, with an air of mingled won- 
der, scorn, and alarm." 

" But you forget, Mr. Tag-rag, that 
if Mr. Titmouse's account should turn 
out to be correct, it will be your 
pocket that must pay all the expenses, 
amounting probably to twenty times 
the sum which the law may award to 
Mr. Titmouse." 

"Law, sir ! — It's not justice ! — I 
hate law. — Give me common sense 
and common honesty ! " 

" Both of them would condemn 
your conduct, Mr. Tag-rag ; for I 
have heard a full account of what 
Mr. Titmouse has suffered at your 
hands — of the cause of your sudden 
warning to him, and your still more 
sudden dismissal of yesterday. Oh, 
Mr. Tag-rag ! upon my honour, it 
won't do — not for a moment — and 
should you go on, rely upon what I 
tell you, that it will cost you dear." 

"And suppose, sir," said Tag-rag, 
in a would-be contemptuous tone — 
"I should have witnesses to prove 
all I've said — which of us will look 
funny then, sir ? " 

" Which, indeed ! However, since 
that is your humour, I can only assure 
you that Mr. Titmouse defies you to 
prove any misconduct on his part. 
We have taken up his cause, and, 



as you may perhaps find, wo shall 
not easily let it drop." 

"I mean no offence, sir," said Tag- 
rag, in a mitigated tone; "but I 
must say, that ever since you first 
came here, Titmouse has been quite 
another person. He seems not to 
know who I am, nor to care either — 
and he's perfectly unbearable." 

' ' My dear sir, what has he said or 
done? — that, you know, is what you 
must be prepared to prove." 

"Well, sir! and which of us is 
likely to be best off for witnesses ? — ■ 
Think of that, sir — ■ I've eighteen 
young men " 

"We shall chance that, sir," replied 
Gammon, shrugging his shoulders : 
"but again, I ask, what did you dis- 
miss him for ? and I request a plain, 
straight-forward answer." 

' ' What did I dismiss him for ? — 
Haven't I eyes and ears ? — Fir3t and 
foremost, he's the most odious-man- 
nered fellow I ever came near — and — 
he hadn't a shirt to his back when I 
first took him — 'the ungrateful wretch ! 
— Sir, it's not against the law, I sup- 
pose, to hate a man ;— and if it isn't, 
how I hate Titmouse ! " 

"Mr. Tag-rag" — said Gammon, 
lowering his voice, and looking very 
earnestly at his companion — "can I 
say a word to you in confidence — the 
strictest confidence ? " 

"What's it about, sir?" enquired 
Tag-rag, with an apprehensive air. 

' ' I dare say you may have felt, per- 
haps, rather surprised at the interest 
which I — in fact our office, the office 
of Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, in 
Saffron Hill — appear to have taken 
in Mr. Titmouse." 

"Why, sir, it's your look-out to 
see how you're to be paid for what 
you're doing — and I dare say lawyers 
generally keep a pretty sharp look-out 
in that direction." 

Gammon smiled, and continued — 
"It may, perhaps, a little surprise you, 
Mr. Tag-rag, to hear that your present 
(ought I to say, your late?) shopman, 
Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse, is at this 
moment probably the very luckiest 
man in this kingdom. " 

"Why — you don't mean to say he's 



92 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



drawn a prize in the lottery ? "—ex- 
claimed Tag-rag, pricking up his ears. 

" Pho ! my dear sir, that is a mere 
trifle compared with the good fortune 
that has befallen him. I solemnly 
assure you that I believe he will turn 
out to be the undoubted owner of an 
estate worth at least ten thousand a- 
year, besides a vast accumulation of 
ready money ! " 

"Ten thousand a-year, sir! — My 
Titmouse ! — Tittlebat Titmouse ! ■ — 
Ten thousand a-year ! " faltered Tag- 
rag, after a pause, having gone as pale 
as death. 

" I have as little doubt of the fact, 
as I have that you yesterday turned 
him out of doors, Mr. Tag-rag ! " 

" But — who could have dreamt it ? 
How was — really, Mr. Gammon ! — 
how was I to know it ? " 

"That's the fact, however," said 
Gammon, shrugging his shoulders. 
Tag-rag wriggled about in his chair, 
put his hands in and out of his 
pockets, scratched his head, and con- 
tinued staring open-mouthed at the 
bearer of such astounding intelligence. 
" Perhaps, however, all this is meant 
as a joke, sir," — said he — "And if so 
— it's — it's — a very •" 

" It's one of his solicitors who were 
fortunate enough to make the dis- 
covery, that tells you. I repeat what 
I have already told you, Mr. Tag-rag, 
that an estate of ten thousand a-year 
is the very least ■" 

"Why, that's two hundred thou- 
sand pounds, sir ! " — exclaimed Tag- 
rag, with an awe-struck air. 

" At the very least " 

" Lord, Mr. Gammon ! — Excuse me, 
sir, but how did you find it out ? " 

' ' Mere accident — a mere accidental 
discovery, sir, in the course of other 
professional enquiries ! " 

"And does Mr. Titmouse know it ? " 

"Ever since the day after that on 
which I called on him here ! " replied 
Gammon pointedly. 

"You don't say so!" — exclaimed 
Tag-rag, and then continued silent for 
nearly half a minute, evidently amazed 
beyond all power of expression. 

"Well," — at length he observed — 
" I will say this — he's the most amiable 



young gentleman — the very amiablest 
young gentleman I- — ever — came near. 
I always thought there was something 
uncommon superior-like in his looks." 
"Yes— I think he is of rather an 
amiable turn," observed Gammon, 
with an expressive smile — "and so 

intelligent " 

"Intelligent! Mr. Gammon! you 
should only have known him as I 
have known him ! — Well, to be sure ! 
— Lord ! His only fault was, that he 
was above his business ; but when one 
comes to think of it, how could it be 
otherwise ? From the time I first 
clapped eyes on him — I — I — knew he 
was — a superior article — quite superior 
— you know what I mean, sir ? — He 
couldn't help it, of course ! — to be 
sure — he never was much liked by 
the other young men ; but that was 
jealousy ! — all jealousy ; I saw that 
all the while." Here he looked at 
the door, and added in a very low 
tone, " Many .sleepless nights has 
their bad treatment of Mr. Titmouse 
cost me ! — Even I, now and then, 
used to look and speak sharply to 
him — just to keep him, as it were, 
down to the mark of the others — he 
was so uncommon handsome and gen- 
teel in his manner, sir. Hang me, if 
I didn't tell Mrs. Tag-rag the very 
first day lie came to me, that he was 
a gentleman born — or ought to have 
been one." 

Now, do you suppose, acute reader, 
that Mr. Tag-rag was insincere in all 
this ? By no means. He spoke the 
real dictates of his heart, unaware of 
the sudden change which had taken 
place in his feelings. It certainly has 
an ugly look of improbability — but it 
was the nature of the beast ; his eye sud- 
denly caught a glimpse of the golden 
calf, and he instinctively fell down 
and worshipped it. "Well— at all 
events," said Mr. Gammon, scarcely 
able to keep a serious expression on 
his face — " though he's not lived much 
like a gentleman hitherto, yet he will 
live for the future like a very great 
gentleman — and spend his money like 
one, too." 

" I — I — dare say — he will ! — I won- 
der how he will get through a quarter 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



93 



of it ! — what do you think he'll do, 
sir?" 

" Heaven only knows — he may very 
shortly do just what he likes ! Go into 
the House of Commons, or " 

" Lord, sir ! — I feel as if I shouldn't 
be quite right again for the rest of the 
day ! — I own to you, sir, that all yes- 
terday and to-day I've been on the 
point of going to Mr. Titmouse's lodg- 
ings to apologize for — for Good 

gracious me ! one can't take it all in 
at once — Ten thousand a-year ! — Many 
a lord hasn't got more — some not as 
much, I'll be bound ! — Dear me, what 
will he do ! — Well, one thing I'm sure 
of — he'll never have a truer friend than 
plain Thomas Tag-rag, though I've 
not always been a-flattering him — 1 
respected him too much ! — The manj r 
little things I've borne with in Tit- 
mouse, that in any one else I'd have 
— But why didn't he tell me, sir ? "We 
should have understood one another 
in a moment." — Here he paused 
abruptly ; for his breath seemed sud- 
denly taken away, as he reviewed the 
series of indignities which he had 
latterly inflicted on Titmouse — the 
kind of life which that amiable 
young gentleman had led in his 
establishment. 

Never had the keen Gammon en- 
joyed anything more exquisitely 
than the scene which I have been 
describing. To a man of his practical 
sagacity in the affairs of life, and 
knowledge of human nature, nothing 
could appear more ludicrously con- 
temptible than the conduct of poor 
Tag-rag. How differently are the minds 
of men constituted ! How Gammon 
despised Tag-rag ! 

' ' Xovj, may I take it for granted, 
Mr. Tag-rag, that we understand each 
other ? " enquired Gammon. 

" Yes, sir," replied Tag-rag meekly. 
" But do you think Mr. Titmouse 
will ever forgive or forget the little 
misunderstanding we've lately had ? 
If I could but explain to him how 
I have been acting a part towards him 
— all for his good ! " 

"You may have opportunities for 
doing so, if you are really so disposed, 
Mr. Tag-rag ; for I have something 



seriously to propose to you. Circum- 
stances render it desirable that for 
some little time this important affair 
should be kept as quiet as possible ; 
and it is Mr. Titmouse's wish and 
ours — as his confidential professional 
advisers — that for some few months 
he should continue in your establish- 
ment, and apparently in your service 
as before." 

" In my service ! • — my service ! " 
inteiTupted Tag-rag, opening his eyes 
to their utmost. " I sha'n't know how 
to behave in my own premises ! Have 
a man with ten thousand a-year be- 
hind my counter, sir ? I might as 
well have the Lord Mayor ! Sir, it 
can't — it can't be. Now, if Mr. Tit- 
mouse chose to become a partner in 
the house — ay, there might be some- 
thing in that — he needn't have any 
trouble — be only a sleeping partner." 
Tag-rag warmed with the thought. 
"Beally, sir, that wouldn't be so much 
amiss — would it ? " Gammon assured 
him that it was out of the question ; 
and gave him some of the reasons for 
the proposal which he (Mr. Gammon) 
had been making. While Gammon 
fancied that Tag-rag was paying pro- 
found attention to what he was saying, 
Tag-rag's thoughts had shot far a-head. 
He had an only child — a daughter, 
about twenty years old — Miss Tabitha 
Tag-rag ; and the delightful possibility 
of her by-and-by becoming Mrs. Tit- 
mouse, put her amiable parent into 
a perspiration. Into the proposal just 
made by Mr. Gammon he fell with 
great eagerness, which he attempted 
to conceal — for what innumerable 
opportunities would it not afford him 
for bringing about the desire of his 
heart — for throwing the lovely young 
couple into each other's way, — endear- 
ing them to each other ! Oh, delight- 
ful ! It really looked almost as if fate 
had determined that the thing should 
come to pass! If Mr. Titmouse did 
not dine with him, Mrs., and Miss 
Tag-rag, at Satin Lodge, Clapham, on 
the very next Sunday, it should, Tag- 
rag resolved, be owing to no fault of 
his. — Mr. Gammon having arranged 
everything exactly as he had desired, 
and having again enjoined Mr. Tag- 



94 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



rag to absolute secrecy, took his 
departure. Mr. Tag-rag, in his excite- 
ment, thrust out his hand, and 
grasped that of Gammon, which was 
extended towards him somewhat coldly 
and reluctantly. Tag-rag attended him 
with extreme obsequiousness to the 
door ; and on his departure walked 
back rapidly to his own room, and sat 
down for nearly half an hour in deep 
thought. Abruptly rising, at length, 
he clapped his hat on his head, and 
saying that he should soon be back, 
hurried out to call upon his future 
son-in-law, full of affectionate anxiety 
concerning his health — and vowing 
within himself, that henceforth it 
should be the study of his life to make 
his daughter and Titmouse happy ! 
There could be no doubt of the reality 
of the event just communicated to 
him by Mr. Gammon ; for he was one 
of a well-known firm of solicitors ; 
he had had an interview on "im- 
portant business " with Titmouse a 
fortnight ago, and that could have 
been nothing but the prodigious 
event just communicated to himself. 
Such things had happened to others 
— why not to Tittlebat Titmouse ? 
In short, Tag-rag had no doubt on 
the matter. 

He found Titmouse not at home ; 
so he left a most particularly civil 
message, half a dozen times repeated, 
with Mrs. Squallop (to whom also he 
was specially civil), to the effect that 
he, Mr. Tag-rag, should be only too 
happy to see Mr. Titmouse at No. 
375, Oxford Street, whenever.it might 
suit his convenience ; that he had 
something very particular to say to 
him about the unpleasant and un- 
accountable occurrence of yesterday ; 
that he was most deeply concerned to 
hear of Mr. Titmouse's indisposition, 
and anxious to learn from himself that 
he had recovered, &c. &c. &c. ; — all 
which, together with one or two other 
little matters, which Mrs. Squallop 
could not help putting together, satis- 
fied that shrewd lady that "some- 
thing was in the wind about Mr. 
Titmouse ; " and made her reflect 
rather anxiously on one or two violent 
scenes she had had with him, and which 



she was now ready entirely to forget and 
forgive. Having thus done all that 
at present was in his power to forward 
the thing, the anxious and excited 
Tag-rag returned to his shop ; on 
entering which, one Lutestring, his 
principal young man, eagerly apprised 
him of a claim which he had, as he 
imagined, only the moment before 
established to the thanks of Mr. Tag- 
rag, by having "bundled off, neck 
and crop, that hodious Titmouse," 
who, about five minutes before, had, 
it seemed, had the "impudence" to 
present himself at the shop-door, and 
walk in as if nothing had happened ! ! 
[Titmouse had so presented himself, 
in consequence of a call from Mr. 
Gammon, immediately after his inter- 
view with Tag-rag.] 

' ' You — ordered • — Mr. Titmouse — 
off!!" exclaimed Tag-rag, starting 
back aghast, and stopping his voluble 
and officious assistant. 

"Of course, sir — after what hap- 
pened yester " 

' ' Who authorized you, Mr. Lute- 
string?" enquired Tag-rag, striving 
to choke down the rage that was 
rising within him. 

" "Why, sir, I really supposed 

that -" 

' ' You supposed ! You're a med- 
dling, impertinent, disgusting " 

Suddenly his face was overspread with 
smiles, as three or four elegantly 
dressed customers entered, whom he 
received with profuse obeisances. But 
when their backs were turned, he 
directed a lightning look towards 
Lutestring, and retreated once more 
to his room, to meditate on the agitat- 
ing events of the last hour. The 
extraordinary alteration in Mr. Tag- 
rag's behaviour was attributed by his 
shopmen to his having been fright- 
ened out of his wits by the threats 
of Titmouse's lawyer — for such it was 
clear the stranger was ; and more than 
one of them stored it up in their minds 
as a useful precedent against some 
future occasion. 

Twice afterwards during the day did 
Tag-rag call at Titmouse's lodgings — 
but in vain ; and on returning the 
third time felt not a little disquieted. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



95 



He determined, however, to call the 
first thing on the ensuing morning ; if 
he should then fail of seeing Mr. 
Titmouse, he was resolved to go to 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap — 
and besides, address a very affectionate 
letter to Mr. Titmouse. How totally 
changed had become all his feelings 
towards that gentleman within the 
last few hours ! The more Tag-rag 
reflected on Titmouse's conduct, the 
more he saw in it to approve of. 
How steady and regular had he been 
in his habits ! how civil and obliging ! 
how patient of rebuke ! how pleasing 
in his manners to the customers ! 
Surely, surely, thought Tag-rag, Tit- 
mouse can't have been four long years 
in my employ without getting a — sort 
of a — feeling — of attachment to me — 
he'd have left long ago if ho hadn't ! 
It was true there had now and then 
been tiffs between them ; but who 
could agree always ? Even Mrs. Tag- 
rag and he, when they were courting, 
often fell out with one another. Tag- 
rag was now ready to forget and 
forgive all — he had never meant any 
harm to Titmouse. He believed that 
poor Tittlebat was an orphan, poor 
soul ! alone in the wide world — iioid 
he would become the prey of designing 
strangers. Tag-rag did not like the 
appearance of Gammon. No doubt 
that person would try and ingratiate 
himself as much as possible with Tit- 
mouse ! Then Titmouse was remark- 
ably good-looking. " I wonder what 
Tabby will think of him when she 
sees him ! " How anxious Tittlebat 
mrtt be to see her^/w's daughter ! 
How could Tag-rag make Tittlebat's 
stay at his premises (for he could not 
bring himself to believe that on the 
morrow he could not set all right, 
and disavow the impudent conduct of 
Lutestring) agreeable and delightful ? 
lie >rould discharge the first of his 
young men that did not show Tit- 
morse nroper respect. "What low 
lodi-ings pocv 'tittlebat lived in ! 
"Why could he not take up his quar- 
ters" at Satin Lodge ? They always 
l.ad a nice spare bed-room. Ah ! that 
would be a stroke ! How Tabby could 
■ -'Var herself to him ! What a num- 



ber of things Mrs. Tag-rag could do to 
make him comfortable ! 

About seven o'clock Tag-rag quitted 
his premises in Oxford Street, for hia 
country houso ; and, occupied with 
these and similar delightful and anx- 
ious thoughts and speculations, hurried 
along Oxford Street on his way to 
the Clapham stage, without thinking 
of his umbrella, though it rained 
fast. When he had taken his place 
on the coach-box, beside old Crack (as 
he had done almost every night for 
years,) he was so unusually silent that 
Crack naturally thought that his best 
passenger was going to become bank- 
rupt, or compound with his creditors, 
or something of that sort. Mr. Tag- 
rag could hardly keep his temper at 
the slow pace old Crack was driving 
at — just when Tag-rag could have 
wished to gallop the whole way. 
Never had he descended with so much 
briskness, as when the coach at length 
drew up before the little green gate, 
which opened on the nice little 
gravel walk, which led up to the little 
green wooden porch, which sheltered 
the slim door which admitted you 
into Satin Lodge. As Tag-rag stood 
for a moment wiping his wet shoes 
upon the mat, he could not help 'ob- 
serving, for the first time, by the 
inward light of ten thousand a-year, 
how uncommon narrow the passage 
was ; and thinking that Satin Lodge 
would never do, when he should be 
the father-in-law of a man worth ten 
thousand a-year, he could easily let 
that house and take a larger one. As 
he hung his hat upon the peg, the 
mischievous insolence of Lutestring 
occurred to him ; and he deposited 
such a prodigious, but half-suppressed 
execration upon that gentleman's 
name, as must have sunk a far 
more buoyant sinner many fathoms 
deeper than usual into a certain hot 
and deep place that shall be nameless. 

Mrs. and Miss Tag-rag were sitting 
in the front parlour, intending to take 
tea as soon as Mr. Tag-rag should 
have arrived. It was not a large 
room, but furnished prettily, accord- 
ing to the taste of the owners. There 
was only one window, and it had a 



96 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



flaunting white summer curtain. The 
walls were ornamented with three 
pictures, in slight gilt frames, being 
portraits of Mr., Mrs., and Miss Tag- 
rag ; and I do not wish to say more 
of these pictures, than that in each of 
them the dress was done with singular 
exactness and fidelity — the faces seem- 
ing to have been painted in, in order 
to set off and complete the picture of 
the dress. The skinny little Miss 
Tag-rag sat at the worn-out, jingling 
pianoforte, playing — oh, horrid and 
doleful sound ! — The Battle of Prague. 
Mrs. Tag-rag, a fat, showily-dressed 
woman of about fifty, her cap having 
a .prodigious number of artificial 
flowers in it, sat reading a profitable 
volume, entitled " Groans from the 
Bottomless Pit to Awaken Sleeping 
Sinners," by the Rev. Dismal 
Horror — a very rousing young dis- 
senting preacher lately come into that 
neighbourhood, and who had almost 
frightened into fits half the women 
and children, and one or two old 
men, of his congregation ; giving out, 
amongst several similarly cheering 
intimations, that they must all neces- 
sarily be damned unle.s they imme- 
diately set about making themselves 
as miserable as possible in this world. 
Only the Sunday before, he had 
pointed out, with awful force and 
distinctness, how cards and novels 
were the devil's traps to catch souls ; 
and balls and theatres short and easy 

cuts to . 

He had proved to his trembling 
female hearers, in effect, that there 
was only one way to heaven — through 
his chapel ; that the only safe mode of 
spending their time on earth was 
reading such blessed works as that 
which he had just published, and 
going to prayer-meetings almost daily. 
But when, a Sunday or two before, he 
preached a funeral sermon, to "im- 
prove the death " — such being his 
impressive phrase — of a Miss Snooks, 
(who had kept a circulating library; in 
the neighbourhood ;) and who, having 
been to the theatre on the Thursday 
night, was taken ill of a bowel attack 
on the Friday, and was a "life- 
less corpse when the next Sabbath 



dawned," — you might have heard a 
beetle :>neeze within any of the walls, 
all over the crowded chapel. Two- 
thirds of the women present, struck 
with the awful judgment upon the 
deceased Miss Snooks, made solemn 
vows never again to enter the accursed 
walls of a theatre ; many determined 
no longer to subscribe to the circu- 
lating library, ruining their precious 
souls with light and amusing reading ; 
and almost all resolved forthwith to 
become active members of a sort of 
religious tract society, which Mr. 
Horror had just established in the 
neighbourhood, for the purpose of 
giving the sick and starving poor 
spiritual food, in the shape of tracts, 
(chiefly written by himself,) which 
might " wean their affections away 
from this vain world," and " fix them 
on better things," rejoicing, in the 
mean while, in the bitter pangs of 
destitution. All this sort of thing 
Mr. Horror possibly imagined to be 
advancing the cause of real religion ! 
In short, he had created a sort of 
spiritual fever about the place, which 
was then just at its height in worthy 
Mrs. Tag-rag. 

" Well, Dolly, how are you to- 
night ? " enquired Tag-rag, with un- 
usual brisknet'3, on entering the room. 
" Tolerable, thank you, Tag," re- 
plied Mrs. Tr.g-rag mournfully, with 
a sigh, closing the cheerful volume 
she had been perusing — it having been 
recommended the preceding Sunday 
from the pulpit by its pious and gifted 
author, Mr. Horror, to be read, and 
prayed over every day by every 
member of his congregation. 

"And how are you, Tabby?" said 
Tag-rag, addressing his daughter. 
" Come and kiss me, you little slut — 
come ! " 

" No, I sha'n't, pa ! Do let me go 
on with my practising " — and twang) 
twang ! went those infernal kevs. 
"D'ye hear, Tab ? Come and kiss 

me, you little minx " 

"Really, pa, how provoking— just 
as I am in the middle of the Cries 
of the Wounded! I sha'n't— that's 
flat." 

The doating parent could not, how- 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



97 



ever, be denied ; so he stepped to the 
piano, put his arm around his dutiful 
daughter's neck, kissed her fondly, 
and then stood for a moment behind 
her, admiring her brilliant execution 
of The Trumpet of Victory. Having 
changed his coat, and put on an old 
pair of shoes, Tag-rag was comfortable 
for the evening. 

"Tabby plays wonderful well, 
Dolly, don't she ? " said Tag-rag, as 
the tea things were being brought in, 
by way of beginning a conversation, 
while he drew his chair nearer to his 
wife. 

"Ah! I'd a deal rather see her 
reading something serious — for life is 
short, Tag, and eternity's long." 

" Botheration .'—Stuff !— Tut ! " 

" You may find it out one day, my 
dear, when it's too late — " 

"I'll tell you what, Dolly," said 
Tag-rag angrily, "you're coming a 
great deal too much of that sort of 
thing — my house is getting like a 
Methodist meeting-house. I can't 
bear it, — I can't ! What the deuce 
is come to you all in these parts, 
lately?" Mr. Tag-rag had been in- 
duced, some three years before, to 
quit the Church of England and take 
up with Mr. Dismal Horror ; but his 
zeal by no means kept pace with that 
of his wife. 

"Ah, Tag-rag," replied his wife, 
with a sigh, ' ' I can only pray for you 
- — I can do no more " 

" Oh ! " exclaimed Tag-rag, with an 
air of desperate disgust, thrusting his 
hands into his pockets, and stretching 
his legs to their utmost extent under 
the table. "I'll tell you what, Mrs. 
T.," he added, after a while, "too 
much of one thing is good for nothing ; 
you may choke a dog with pudding ; 
— I sha'n't renew my sittings at Mr. 
Horror's." 

"Oh, dear, dear pa, do ! That's a 
love of a pa ! " interposed Miss Tag- 
rag, twirling round on her music-stool. 
"All Clapham's running after him— 
he's quite the rage ! There's the 
Dugginses, the Pips, the Jones, the 
Macr;ots-and, really, Mr. Horror does 
preach such dreadful things, it's quite 
deli 'litful to look round and see all 



the people with their eyes and mouths 
wide open — and ours is such a good 
pew for seeing — and Mr. Horror is 
such a bee — yeautiful preacher, — isn't 
he, ma ? " 

"Yes, love, he is — but I wish I 
could see you profit by him, and pre- 
paring for death " 

"Why, ma, how can you go on in 
that ridiculous way ? You know I'm 
not twenty yet ! " 

"Well, well! poor Tabby!" here 
Mrs. Tag-rag's voice faltered — "a day 
will come, when " 

" Play me the Devil among the 
Tailors, or Copenhagen Waltz, or 
something of that sort, Tabby," said 
her father furiously, "or I shall be 
sick ! — I can't bear it ! Curse Mr. 
Hor " 

" Well !— Oh, my !— I never !— Mr. 
Tag-rag ! " exclaimed his astounded 
wife. 

" Play away, Tab, or I'll go and sit 
in the kitchen ! They're cheerful 
there! The next time I come across 
Mr. Horror, if I don't give him a bit 
of my mind" — here he paused, and 
slapped his hand with much energy 
upon the table. Mrs. Tag-rag wiped, 
her eyes, sighed, and resumed her 
book. Miss Tag-rag began to make 
tea, her papa gradually forgetting hia 
rage, as he- fixed his dull grey eyes 
fondly on the pert skinny countenance 
of his daughter. 

"By the way, Tag," exclaimed 
Mrs. Tag-rag suddenly, but in the 
same mournful tone, addressing her 
husband, "you haven't of course 
forgot the flowers for my new 
bonnet ? " 

" Never once thought of it," replied 
Tag-rag, doggedly. 

"You haven't! Good gracious! 
what am I to go to chapel in next 
Sunday ! " she exclaimed, with sudden 
alarm, closing her book, "and our 
seat in the very front of the gallery ! 
— bless me ! 1 shall have a hundred 
eyes on me ! " 

"Now that you're coming down a 
bit, and dropped out of the clouds, 
Dolly," said her husband, much re- 
lieved, "I'll tell you a bit of news 
that will, I fancy, rather " 



98 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



"Come ! what is it, Tag ?" eagerly 
enquired his wife. 

" What should you say of a chance 
of a certain somebody " (here he looked 
unutterable things at his daughter) 
"that shall be nameless, becoming 
mistress of ten thousand a-year ? " 

"Why" — Mrs. Tag-rag changed 
colour — "has any one fallen in love 
with Tab ? " 

" What should you say, Mrs. T., of 
our Tab marrying a man with ten 
thousand a-year ? There's for you ! 
Isn't that better than all your ■" 

"Oh, Tag, don't say that ; but" — 
here she hastily turned down the leaf 
of Groans from, the Bottomless Pit, and 
tossed that inestimable work upon the 
sofa — "do tell me, lovy ! what are 
you talking about ? " 

"What indeed, Dolly! — I'm going 
to have him here to dinner next 
Sunday." 

Miss Tag-rag having been listening 
with breathless eagerness to this little 
colloquy between her prudent and 
amiable parents, unconscious of what 
she was about, poured all the tea into 
the sugar-basin, instead of her papa's 
tea-cup. 

"Have who, dear Tag?" enquired 
Mrs. Tag-rag impatiently. 

" Who ? why whom but my Tittle- 
bat Titmouse ! ! You've seen him, 
and heard me speak of him often, you 
know " 

" What !— that odious, nasty " 

"Hush, hush!" involuntarily ex- 
claimed Tag-rag, with an apprehensive 
air — "That's all past and gone— I was 
always a little too hard on him. Well, 
at all events, he's turned up all of a 
sudden master of ten thousand a-year. 
He has, indeed— may this piece of 
toast choke me if he hasn't ! " 

Mrs. Tag-rag and her daughter sat 
in speechless wonder. 

"Where did he see Tab, Taggy?" 
enquired at length Mrs. Tag-rag. 

" Oh— I — I— why — you see — I don't 
exactly think that signifies so much 
— He will see her, you know, next 
Sunday. " 

" So then he's positively coming ? " 
enquired Mrs. Tag-rag with a fluttered 



"Y e — s — I've no doubt." — (I'll 

discharge Lutestring to - morrow, 
thought Tag-rag with a sharp inward 
spasm.) 

" But aren t we counting our chick- 
ens, Taggy, before they're hatched? 
If Titmouse is all of a sudden become 
such a catch, he'll be snapped up in a 

minute, you know, of course " 

' ' Why, you see, Dolly — we're first 
in the market, I'm sure of that — his 
attorney tells me he's to be kept quite 
snug and quiet under my care for 

months, and see no one " 

"My gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. 
Tag-rag, holding up both her hands — 
" if that don't look like a special inter- 
position of Providence, now " 

"So 7 thought, Tabby, while Mr. 
Gammon was telling me ! " replied her 
husband. 

" Ah, Tag, there are many of 'em, if 
we were only to be on the look-out for 
them ! " 

"I see it all! It's designed by 
Providence to get them soon together ! 
When once Mr. Titmouse gets sight of 
Tabby, and gets into her company — 
eh ! Tab, lovy ! you'll do the rest, 
hem ! " 

" La, pa ! how you go on ! " sim- 
pered Miss Tag-rag. 

"You must do your part, Tab," 
said her father — "we'll do ours. He'll 
bite, you may depend on it, if you 
manage well ! " 

" What sort of a looking young man 
is he, dear pa ? " enquired Miss Tag- 
rag blushing, and her heart fluttering 
very fast. 

"Oh, you must have seen him, 

sweetest " 

" How should I ever notice any one 
of the lots of young men at the shop, 
pa ?— 1 don't at all know him. " 

" Well— he's the handsomest, most 
genteel-looking young fellow I ever 
came across ; he's long been an orna- 
ment to my establishment, for his 
good looks and civil and obliging man- 
ners — quite a treasure ! You should 
have seen how he took with ladies of 

rank always ! " 

"Dear me," interrupted Mrs. Tag- 
rag, anxiously addressing her daughter, 
" 1 hope, Tabby, that Miss Nix will 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



99 



send home your lilac-coloured frock 
by next Sunday ! " 

" If she don't, ma, I'll take care she 
never makes anything more for me, 
that's poz ! " replied Miss Tag-rag 
earnestly. 

"We'll call there to-morrow, love, 
and hurry her on," said her mother ; 
and from that moment until eleven 
o'clock, when the amiable and inter- 
esting trio retired to rest, nothing 
was talked of but the charming Tit- 
mouse, and the good fortune he so 
richly deserved, and how long the 
courtship was likely to last. Mrs. 
Tag-rag, who, for the last month or 
so, had always remained on her knees 
before getting into bed for at least 
ten minutes, on this eventful evening 
compressed her prayers, I regret to 
say, into one minute and a half's time, 
(as for Tag-rag, a hardened heathen, 
for all he had taken to hearing Mr. 
Horror, he always tumbled prayerless 
into bed, the moment he was un- 
dressed ;) while, for once in a way, 
Miss Tag-rag, having taken only half 
an hour to put her hair into papers, 
popped into bed directly she had blown 
the candle out, without saying any 
prayers — or even thinking of finishing 
the novel which lay under her pillow, 
and which she had got on the sly from 
the circulating library of the late Miss 
Snooks. For several hours she lay in 
a delicious reverie, imagining herself 
become Mrs. Tittlebat Titmouse, riding 
about Clapham in a handsome carriage, 
going to the play every night ; and 
what would the three Miss Knippses 
say when they heard of it — they'd 
burst. And such a handsome man, 
too! 

She sunk, at length, into uncon- 
sciousness, amidst a soft confusion of 
glistening white satin — favours — 
bridesmaids— Mrs. Tittlebat Tit— Tit 
— Tit — Tit — mouse. 

Titmouse, about half - past nine 
o'clock on the ensuing morning, was 
sitting in his little room in a somewhat 
troubled humour, musing on many 
things, and little imagining the intense 
interest he had excited in the feelings 
of the amiable occupants of Satin 
!,-><!/r, when a knock at his door 



startled him out of his rovoric. Guess 
his amazement to see, on opening it, 
Mr. Tag-rag ! 

"Your most obedient, sir," com- 
menced that gentleman, in a subdued 
and obsequious manner, plucking off 
his hat the instant that he saw 
Titmouse. " I hope you're better, 
sir ! — Been very uneasy, sir, about 
you." 

"Please to walk in, sir," replied 
Titmouse, not a little flustered — " I'm 
better, sir, thank you." 

"Happy to hear it, sir! — But am 
also come to offer humble apologies for 
the rudeness of that upstart that was 
so rude to you yesterday, at my pre- 
mises — know whom 1 mean, eh ? — 
Lutestring — I shall get rid of him, I 
do think " 

" Thank you, sir But — but — 

when I was in your employ " 

" Was in my employ ! " interrupted 
Tag-rag with a sigh, gazing earnestly 
at him — "It's no use trying to hide 
it any longer ! I've all along seen you 
was a world too good for — in fact, 
quite above your situation in my poor 
shop ! I may have been wrong, Mr. 
Titmouse," he continued diffidently, 
as he placed himself on what seemed 
the only chair in the room, (Titmouse 
sitting on a common wooden stool) — 
"but I did it for the best — eh ? — don't 
you understand me, Mr. Titmouse ? " 
Titmouse continued looking on the 
floor incredulously, sheepishly, and 
somewhat sullenly. 

" Very much obliged, sir — but must 
say you've rather a funny way of show- 
ing it, sir. Look at the sort of life 
you've led me for this " 

"Ah! knew you'd say so ! But I 
can lay my hand on my heart, Mr. 
Titmouse, and declare to God — I can, 

indeed, Mr. Titmouse " Titmouse 

preserved a very embarrassing silence. 
— ' ' Seel'm out of your good books — But 
— won't you forget and forgive, Mr. Tit- 
mouse ? I meant well. Nay, I humbly 
beg forgiveness for everything you've 
not liked in me. Can I say more ? 
Come, Mr. Titmouse, you've a noble 
nature, and I ask forgiveness ! " cried 
Tag-rag softly and earnestly : you 
would have thought that his life 



100 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



depended on his success in what he 
was doing ! 

"You — you ought to do it before 
the whole shop, if you're in earnest," 
replied Titmouse, a little relenting — 
"for they've all seen your goings on." 

"Them! — the brutes! — the vulgar 
fellows, eugh ! — you and I, Mr. Tit- 
mouse, are a leetle above them ! D'ye 
think we ought to mind what servants 
say ? — Only you say the word, and I 
make a clean sweep of 'em all ; you 
shall have the premises to yourself, 
Mr. Titmouse, within an hour after 
any of those chaps shows you the least 
glimmer of disrespect." 

"Ah! I don't know — you've used 
me most uncommon bad, 'pon my soul ! 
— far worse than they have — you've 
nearly broke my heart, sir ! You 
have ! " 

' ' Well, my womankind at home are 
right, after all ! They told me all 
along I was going the wrong way to 
work, when I said how I tried to keep 
your pride down, and prevent you from 
having your head turned by knowing 
your good looks ! Over and over again, 
my little girl has said, with tears in her 
dear eyes, ' you'll break his spirit, dear 
papa — if he is handsome, wasn't it 
God that made him so ? ' " The little 
frost-work which Titmouse had thrown 
around his heart, began to melt like 
snow under sunbeams. "Ah, Mr. 
Titmouse, Mr. Titmouse ! the women 
are always right, and we're always 
wrong," continued Tag-rag earnestly, 
perceiving his advantage. " Upon my 
sou], I could kick myself for my stu- 
pidity, and cruelty too ! " 

' ' Ah, I should think so ! No one 
knows what I've suffered ! And now 
that I'm — I suppose you've heard it 
all, sir ? — what's in the wind — and all 
that ? " 

" Yes, sir — Mr. Gammon (that most 
respectable gentleman) and I have had 
a long talk yesterday about you, in 
which he did certainly tell me every- 
thing — nothing like confidence, Mr. 
Titmouse, when gentleman meets 
gentleman, you know ! Oh, Lord ! 
the news is really delightful ! delight- 
ful ! " 

"Isn't it, sir ? " eagerly interrupted 



Titmouse, his eyes glistening with 
sudden rapture. 

"Ah! ten thous — I must shake 
hands with you, my dear Mr. Tit- 
mouse ; " and for the first time m 
their lives their hands touched, Tag- 
rag "squeezing that of Titmouse with 
energetic cordiality ; while he added, 
with a little emotion in his tone — 
" Thomas Tag-rag may be a plain- 
spoken and wrong-headed man, Mr. 
Titmouse— but he's a warm heart, I 
assure you ! " 

"And did Mr. Gammon tell you 
all, sir ? " eagerly interrupted Tit- 
mouse. 

"Everything — everything; quite 
confidential, I assure you, for he saw 
the interest I felt in you ! " 

" And did he say about my — hem ! 
— eh ? my stopping a few weeks longer 
with you?" enquired Titmouse, cha- 
grin overspreading his features. 

"I think he did, indeed, Mr. Tit- 
mouse ! He's quite bent on it, sir ! 
And so would any true friend of yours 
be — because you see," — here he drop- 
ped his voice, and looked very mys- 
teriously at Titmouse — "in short, I 
quite agree with Mr. Gammon ! " 

"Do you indeed, sir!" exclaimed 
Titmouse, with rather an uneasy look. 
"I do, i' faith ! Why, they'd give 
thousands and thousands to get you 
out of the way — and what's money to 
them ! But they must look very sharp 
that get at you in the premises of 
Thomas Tag-rag, I warrant 'em ! — 
Talking of that, ah, ha ! — it will be a 
funny thing to see you, Mr. Titmouse 
— Squire Titmouse — ah, ha, ha ! " 

" Fou won't hardly expect me to go 
out with goods, I suppose, sir ? " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! — Ha, ha, ha !— Might 
as well ask me if I'd clean that beast 
Lutestring's shoes ! No, no, my dear 
Mr. Titmouse, you and I have done 
with each other as master and servant • 
it's only as friends that we know each 
other now ! - You may say and do 
whatever you like, and come and go 
when and where you like !— If 8 true 
it will make my other hands rather 
jealous, and get me into trouble • but 
what do I care ? Suppose they do all 
give me warning for your sake ? Let 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



101 



em go, say I ! " He snapped his 
fingers with an air of defiance. " Your 
looks and manners would keep a shop 
full of customers — one Titmouse is 
worth a hundred of them." 

"Ton my soul, you speak most 
uncommon gentlemanlike, sir, cer- 
tainly ! " said Titmouse, with a little 
excitement — "and if you'd only always 
— but that's all past and gone ; and 
I've no objections to say at once, that 
all the articles I may vfant in your 
line I'll have at your establishment, 
pay cash down, and ask for no dis- 
count. And I'll send all my friends, 
for, in course, sir, you know I shall 
have lots of them ! " 

"Don't forget your oldest, your 
truest, your humblest friend, Mr. 
Titmouse," said Tag-rag, with a 
cringing air. 

" That I won't ! " replied Titmouse 
heatedly. 

[It flashed across his mind that a 
true and old friend would be only too 
happy to do him some such trifling 
service as to lend him a ten-pound 
note.] 

"Hem! — Now, are you such a 
friend, Mr. Tag - rag ? " cried he 
sheepishly. 

"Am 1 1 — Can you doubt me ? Try 
me ! See what I could not do for you ! 
Friead, indeed ! " and he looked quite 
fondly at Titmouse. 

' ' Well, I believe you, sir ! And 
the fact is, a — a — a — you see, Mr. 
Tag-rag, though all this heap of 
money's coming to me, I'm precious 
low just now " 

' ' Ye — e — e — s, Mr. Titmouse, ' ' 
quoth Tag-rag anxiously ; his dull 
grey eye fixed on that of Titmouse 
steadfastly. 

"Well — if you've a mind to prove 
your words, Mr. Tag-rag, and don't 
mind advancing me a ten - pound 
note " 

" Hem ! " involuntarily uttered Tag- 
rag, so suddenly and violently, that 
it made Titmouse almost start off his 
seat. Then Tag-rag's face flushed over, 
he twirled about his watch-key rapidly, 
and wriggled about in his chair with 
visible agitation. 

"Oh, you aren't going to do it I 



If so, you'd better say it at once," 
quoth Titmouse, rather cavalierly. 

"Why — -was ever anything so 
unfortunate ? " stammered Tag-rag. 
"That cursed lot of French goods I 
bought only yesterday, to be paid for 
this very morning — and it will drain 
me of every penny ! " 

" Ah— yes ! True ! Well, it don't 
much signify," said Titmouse care- 
lessly, running his hand through his 
bushy hair. " In fact, I needn't have 
bothered an old friend at all, now I 
think of it — Mr. Gammon says he's 
my banker to any amount. I beg 
pardon, I'm sure " 

Tag-rag was in a horrid dilemma. 
•He felt so flustered by the suddenness 
and seriousness of the thing, that he 
could not see his way plain in any 
direction. 

"Let me see," at length he stam- 
mered ; and pulling a ready-reckoner 
out of his pocket, he affected to be 
consulting it, as if to ascertain merely 
the state of his banker's account, but 
really desiring a few moments' time to 
collect his thoughts. 'Twas in vain, 
however ; nothing occurred to him ; 
he saw no way of escape ; his old friend 
the devil deserted him for a moment — 
supplying him with no ready lie to 
meet the exigency. He must, he 
feared, cash up! "Well," said he — 
"it certainly is rather unfortunate, 
just at this precise moment ; but I'll 
step to the shop, and see how my 
ready-money matters stand. It sha'n't 
be a trifle, Mr. Titmouse, that shall 
stand between us. But — if I should 
be hard run — perhaps — eh ? Would a 
five-pound note do ? " 

' ' Why — a — a — certainly, if it 
wouldn't suit you to advance the 
ten — - — " 

" I dare say," interrupted Tag-rag, 
a trifle relieved, " I shall be able to 
accommodate you. Perhaps you'll 
step on to the shop presently, and 
then we can talk over matters ! — By 
the way, did you ever see anything 
so odd ? forgot the main thing ; come 
and take your mutton with me at 
Clapham, next Sunday — my woman- 
kind will be quite delighted. Nay, 
'tis their invitation — ha, ha I " 



102 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAH. 



" You're uncommon polite," replied 
Titmouse, colouring with pleasure. 
Here seemed the first pale primrose of 
the coming spring — an invitation to 
Satin Lodge ! 

"The politeness — the favour — will 
be yours, Mr. Titmouse ! I'm quite 
proud of your coming ! We shall be 
quite alone ; have you all to ourselves ; 
only me, my wife, and daughter — an 
only child, Mr. Titmouse — such a 
child ! She's really often said to me, 

'I wonder' — but, 1 won't make 

you vain, eh ? May I call it a fixture ? " 

" Ton my life, Mr. Tag-rag, you're 
monstrous uncommon polite. It's 
true, I was going to dine with Mr. 
Gammon " . 

" Oh ! pho ! (I mean no disrespect, 
mind !) he's only a bachelor — I've got 
ladies in the case, and all that — eh, 
Mr. Titmouse ? and a young one ! " 

"Well, thank you, sir. Since your 
so pressing " 

" That's it ! An engagement, poz ! 
— Satin Lodge — for Sunday next, " said 
Tag-rag, rising and looking at his 
watch. " Time for me to be off. See 
you soon at the shop ? Soon arrange 
that little.matter of business, eh ? You 
understand ? Good-bye ! good-bye ! " 
and shaking Titmouse cordially by the 
hand, Tag-rag took his departure. As 
he hurried on to his shop, he felt in a 
most painful perplexity about this loan 
of five pounds. It was truly like 
squeezing five drops of blood out of 
his heart. But what was to be done ? 
Could he offend Titmouse ? Where was 
he to stop, if he once began ? Dare he 
ask for security t Suppose the whole 
affair should after all turn into smoke ? 

Now, consider the folly of Tag-rag. 
Here was he in all this terrible pucker 
about advancing five pounds on the 
strength of prospects and chances 
which he had deemed safe for adven- 
turing his daughter upon — her, the 
only object on earth, (except money,) 
that he regarded with anything like 
sincere affection. How was this ? The 
splendour of the future possible good 
fortune of his daughter might, per- 
haps, have dazzled and confused his 
perceptions. Then, again, that was a 
remote contingent venture but this 



sudden appeal to his pocket — the de- 
mand of an immediate outlay and 
venture — was an instant pressure, and 
he felt it severely. Immediate profit 
was everything to Tag-rag— 'twas his 
very life's blood ! He was, in truth, 
a tradesman to his heart's core. If he 
could have seen the immediate quid 
pro quo, or could, at all events, have 
got, if only by way of earnest, as it 
were, a bit of poor Titmouse's heart, 
and locked it'up in his desk, he would 
not have cared so much ; it would 
have been a little in his line ; — but 
here was a Five- Pound Note going 
out forthwith, and nothing immediate, 
visible, palpable, replacing it. Oh ! 
Titmouse had unconsciously pulled 
Tag-rag's very heart-strings ! 

Observe, discriminating reader, that 
there is all the difference in the world 
between a Tradesman and a Mer- 
chant ; and, moreover, that it is not 
every tradesman that is a Tag-rag. 

All these considerations combined 
to keep Tag-rag in a perfect fever of 
doubt and anxiety, which several 
hearty curses, (I regret to say,) failed 
in effectually relieving. By the time, 
however, that Titmouse had made his 
appearance at Mr. Tag-rag's shop, with 
a sufficiently sheepish air, and was 
beginning to run the gauntlet of grin- 
ning contempt from the choice youths 
on each side of the shop, Tag-rag had 
determined on the course he should 
pursue in the very embarrassing matter 
above referred to. To the amazement 
of all present, he bolted out of a little 
counting-house or side-room, hastened 
to meet Titmouse with outstretched 
hand and cordial speech, drew him 
into his little room, and shut the door. 
There Tag-rag informed his flurried 
young friend that he had made ar- 
rangements (with a little inconveni- 
ence, which, however, between friends, 
signified nothing) for lending Titmouse 
five pounds. 

"And, as life's uncertain, my dear 
Mr. Titmouse," said Tag-rag, as Tit- 
mouse, with ill-disguised ecstasy, put 
the five-pound note into his pocket — 
" even between the dearest friends — 
eh ? Understand ? It's not you I fear, 
nor you me, because we've confidence 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



103 



in each other. But if anything should 
happen, those we leave behind us " — - — 
Here he took out of his desk, an "I. 
0. U. £5," ready drawn up and dated 
— "a mere slip— a word or two — is 
satisfaction to both of us." 

" Oh yes, sir! yes, sir! — anything ! " ' 
said Titmouse ; and hastily taking the 
pen proffered him, signed his name ; 
on which Tag-rag felt a little relieved. 
Lutestring was then summoned into 
the room, and thus (not a little to his 
disgust and astonishment) addressed 
by his imperious employer. "Mr. 
Lutestring, you will have the good- 
ness to see that Mr. Titmouse is 
treated by every person in my estab- 
lishment with the utmost possible 
respect. "Whoever treats this gentle- 
man with the slightest disrespect, isn't 
any longer a servant of mine. D'ye 
hear me, Mr. Lutestring ? " added Tag- 
rag sternly, observing a very signifi- 
cant glance of intense hatred which 
Lutestring directed towards Titmouse. 
" D'ye hear me, sir ? " 

" Oh, yes, sir ! yes, sir ! your orders 
shall be attended to," he replied, in 
as insolent a tone as he could venture 
upon, and leaving the room, with a 
half audible whistle of contempt, while 
a grin overspread his features, he had 
within five minutes filled the mind of 
every shopman in the establishment 
with feelings of mingled wonder, 
hatred, and fear towards Titmouse. 
What, thought they, could have hap- 
pened ? "What was Mr. Tag-rag about ? 
This was all of a piece with his rage at 
Lutestring the day before. "D — n 
Titmouse ! " said or thought every one 
of them ! 

Titmouse, for the remainder of the 
day, felt, as may be imagined, but 
little at his ease ; for — to say nothing 
of his insuperable repugnance to the 
discharge of any of his former duties ; 
his uneasiness under the oppressive 
civilities of Mr. Tag-rag ; and the 
evident disgust towards him enter- 
tained by his companions ; many most 
important considerations arising out 
of recent and coming events — his 
altering circumstances — were moment- 
arily forcing themselves upon his at- 
tention. The first of these was his 



hair; for Heaven seemed to have 
suddenly given him the long-coveted 
means of changing its detested hue ; 
and the next was an eyeglass, without 
which, he had long felt his appearance 
and appointments to be painfully in- 
complete. Early in the afternoon, 
therefore, on the readily-admitted plea 
of important business, he obtained the 
permission of the obsequious Mr. Tag- 
rag to depart for the day ; and instantly 
directed his steps to the well-known 
shop of a fashionable perfumer and 
perruquier, in Bond Street — well 
known to those, at least, who were in 
the habit of glancing at the enticing 
advertisements in the newspapers. 
Having watched through the window 
till the coast was clear, (for he felt a 
natural delicacy in asking for a hair 
dye before people who could in an 
instant perceive his urgent occasion 
for it,) he entered the shop, where a 
well-dressed gentleman was sitting be- 
hind the counter reading. He was 
handsome ; and his elaborately curled 
hair was of a heavenly black (so at 
least Titmouse considered it) that was 
better than a thousand printed ad- 
vertisements of the celebrated fluid 
which formed the chief commodity 
there vended. Titmouse, with a little 
hesitation, asked this gentleman what 
was the price of their article "for 
turning light hair black "—and was 
answered — " only seven and sixpence 
for the smaller-sized bottle." One 
was in a twinkling placed upon the 
counter, where it lay like a miniature 
mummy, swathed, as it were, in mani- 
fold advertisements. "You'll find 
the fullest directions within, and testi- 
monials from the highest nobility to 
the wonderful efficacy of the ' Cyano- 

CHAITANTHROPOPOION. ' " * 

* This fearful-looking word, I wish to in- 
form my lady readers, is an original and 
monstrous amalgamation of three or four 
Greek words — Kum'oxatTai'flpwTroTroiGji'- — de- 
noting a fluid " that can render the human 
hair black." Whenever a barber or perfumer 
determines on trying to puff off some villain- 
ous imposition of this sort, strange to say, 
he goes to some starving scholar, and gives 1 
him half-a-crown to coin a word like the 
above, that shall be equally unintelligible 
and unpronounceable, and, therefore at- 
tractive and popular, 



104 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



"Sure it will do, sir?" enquired 
Titmouse anxiously. 

"Is my hair dark enough to your 
taste, sir?" said the gentleman, with 
a calm and bland manner — "because 
I owe it entirely to this invaluable 
specific." 

"Do you, indeed, sir?" enquired 
Titmouse : adding, with a sigh, " but, 
between ourselves, look at mine ! " — 
and, lifting off his hat for a moment, 
he exhibited a great crop of bushy, 
carroty hair. 

"Whew ! rather ugly that, sir! " — 
exclaimed the gentleman, looking very 
serious — "What a curse it is to be 
born with such hair, isn't it ? " 

"Ton my life I think so, sir!" 
answered Titmouse mournfully ; " and 
do you really say, sir, that this what's- 
its-name turned yours of that beautiful 
black ? " 

"Think? Ton my honour, sir, — 
certain ; no mistake, I assure you ! I 
was fretting myself into my grave 
about the colour of my hair ! Why, 
sir, there was a nobleman in here (I 
don't like to mention names) the other 
day, with a head that seemed as if it 
had been dipped into water, and then 
powdered with brick dust ; but — I 
assure you, the Cyanochaitanthropo- 
poion was too much for it— it turned 
black in a very short time. You 
should have seen his lordship's ecstasy 
— [the speaker saw that Titmouse 
would swallow anything ; so he went 
on with a confident air] — and in a 
month's time he had married a beauti- 
ful woman whom he had loved from a 
child, but who had vowed she could 
never bring herself to marry a man 
with such a head of hair. " 

" How long does it take to do all 
this, sir ? " interrupted Titmouse 
eagerly, with a beating heart. 

" Sometimes two — sometimes three 
days. In four days' time, I'll answer 
for it, your most intimate friend would 
not know you. My wife did not know 
me for a long while, and wouldn't let 
me salute her — ha, ha ! " Here another 
customer entered ; and Titmouse, lay- 
ing down the five-pound note he had 
squeezed out of Tag-rag, put the won- 
der-working phial into his pocket, and 



on receiving his change, departed, burst- 
ing with eagerness to try the effects of 
the Cyanochaitanthropopoion. With- 
in half an hour's time he might have 
been seen driving a hard bargain with 
a pawnbroker, for a massive-looking 
eye-glass, which, as it hung suspended 
in the window, he had for months cast 
a longing eye upon ; and he eventually 
purchased it (his eyesight, I need 
hardly say, was perfect) for only fifteen 
shillings. After taking a hearty dinner 
in a little dusky eating-house in Eupert 
Street, frequented by fashionable-look- 
ing foreigners, with splendid heads of 
curling hair andmoustaches, he hastened 
home, eager to commence the grand 
experiment. Fortunately, he was un- 
disturbed that evening. _ Having lit 
his candle, and locked his door, with 
tremulous fingers he opened the papers 
enveloping the little phial ; and glanc- 
ing over their contents, got so inflamed 
with the numberless instances of its 
efficacy, detailed in brief but glowing 
terms— as— the "Duke of ****** 
— the Countesss of***** * — the 
Earl of, &c. &c. &c. &c. — the lovely 

Miss . the celebrated Sir Little 

Bull's-eye, (who was so gratified that 
he allowed his name to be used) — all 
of whom, from having hair of the 
reddest possible description, were now 
possessed of raven-hued locks " — that 
he threw down the paper, and hurriedly 
got the cork out of the bottle. Having 
turned up his coat-cuffs, he commenced 
the application of the Cyanochaitan- 
thropopoion, rubbing it into his hair, 
eyeb'-ows, and whiskers, with all the 
energy he was capable of, for upwards 
of half-an-hour. Then he read over 
again every syllable on the papers 
in which the phial had been wrapped ; 
and about eleven o'clock, having given 
sundry curious glances at the glass, 
got into bed, full of exciting hopes and 
delightful anxieties concerning the 
success of the great experiment he was 
trying. He could not sleep for several 
hours. He dreamed a rapturous dream 
—that he bowed to a gentleman with 
coal-black hair, whom he fancied he 
bad seen before— and suddenly dis- 
covered that he was only looking at 
himself in a glass ! !— This woke Sim 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



105 



Up he jumped — sprung to his little 
glass breathlessly — but ah ! merciful 
Heavens ! he almost dropped down 
dead ! His hair was perfectly green— 
there could be no mistake about it. 
He stood staring in the glass in speech- 
less horror, his eyes and mouth dis- 
tended to their utmost, for several 
minutes. Then he threw himself on 
the bed, and felt fainting. Up he 
presently jumped again in a kind of 
ecstasy — rubbed his hair desperately 
and wildly about — again looked into 
the glass — there it was, rougher than 
before ; but eyebrows, whiskers, and 
head — all were, if anything, of a more 
vivid and brilliant green. Despair 
came over him. What had all his 
past troubles been to this ? — what was 
to become of him ? He got into bed 
again, and burst into a perspiration. 
Two or three times he got into and 
out of bed, to look at himself again — - 
on each occasion deriving only more 
terrible confirmation than before of the 
disaster that had befallen him. After 
lying still for some minutes, he got 
out of bed, and kneeling down, tried 
to say his prayers ; but it was in vain 
— and he rose half choked. It was 
plain he must have his head shaved, 
and wear a wig — that was making an 
old man of him at once. Getting 
more and more disturbed in his mind, 
he dressed himself, half determined on 
starting off to Bond Street, and break- 
ing every pane of glass in the shop 
window of the cruel impostor who 
had sold him the liquid that had so 
frightfully disfigured him. As he 
stood thus irresolute, he heard the 
step of Mrs. Squallop approaching his 
door, and recollected that he had 
ordered her to bring up his tea-kettle 
about that time. Having no time to 
take his clothes off, he thought the 
best thing he could do would be to 
pop into bed again, draw his nightcap 
down to his ears and eyebrows, pretend 
to be asleep, and, turning his back 
towards the door, have a chance of 
escaping the observation of his land- 
lady. No sooner thought of than 
done. Into bed he jumped, and drew 
the clothes over him — not aware, how- 
ever, that in his hurry he had left his 



legs, with boots and trousers on, ex- 
posed to view — an unusual spectacle 
to his landlady, who had, in fact, 
scarcely ever known him in bed at so 
late an hour before. He lay as still 
as a mouse. Mrs. Squallop, after 
glancing with surprise at his legs, 
happening to direct her eyes towards 
the window, beheld a small phial, only 
half of whose dark contents were 
remaining — oh gracious ! — of course it 
must be poison, and Mr. Titmouse 
must be dead ! — In a sudden fright 
she dropped the kettle, plucked the 
clothes off the trembling Titmouse, 
and cried out — "Oh, Mr. Titmouse 1 
Mr. Titmouse ! what have you been " 

"Well, ma'am, what the devil do 
you mean ? How dare you " com- 
menced Titmouse, suddenly sitting up, 
and looking furiously at Mrs. Squallop. 
An inconceivably strange and horrid 
figure he looked. He had all his day 
clothes on ; a white cotton nightcap 
was drawn down to his very eyes, like 
a man going to be hanged ; his face 
was very pale, and his whiskers were 
of a bright green colour. 

" Lard a-mighty ! " exclaimed Mrs. 
Squallop faintly, the moment that this 
strange apparition presented itself ; and, 
sinking on the chair, she pointed with 
a dismayed air to the ominous-looking 
object standing on the window shelf. 
Titmouse from that supposed she had 
found out the true state of the case. 

"Well — isn't it an infernal shame, 
Mrs. Squallop ? " said he, getting off 
the bed, and, plucking off his night- 
cap, exhibited the full extent of his 
misfortune. "What d'ye think of 
that!" he exclaimed, staring wildly 
at her. Mrs. Squallop gave a faint 
shriek, turned her head aside, and 
motioned him away. 

" I shall go mad — I shall ! " cried 
Titmouse, tearing his green hair. 

"Oh Lord! — oh Lord!" groaned 
Mrs. Squallop, evidently expecting 
him to leap upon her. Presently, 
however, she a little recovered her 
presence of mind ; and Titmouse, 
stuttering with fury, explained to her 
what had taken place. As he went 
on, Mrs. Squallop became less and 
less able to control herself, and at 



106 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



length burst into a fit of convulsive 
laughter, and sat holding her hands 
to her fat shaking sides, as if she 
would have tumbled off her chair. 
Titmouse was almost on the point of 
striking her! At length, however, 
the fit went off ; and, wiping her eyes, 
she expressed the greatest commisera- 
tion for him, and proposed to go down 
and fetch up some soft soap and flan- 
nel, and try what "a good hearty 
wash would do." Scarce sooner said 
than done — but, alas, in vain. Scrub, 
scrub — lather, lather, did they both ; 
but, the instant the soap-suds were 
washed off, there was the head as 
green as ever ! 

' ' Oh murder, murder ! what am I 
to do, Mrs. Squallop ? " groaned Tit- 
mouse, having taken another look at 
himself in the glass. 

" Why — really I'd be off to a police- 
office, and have 'em all taken up, if as 
how I was you ! " quoth Mrs. Squallop. 

"No — See if I don't take that 
bottle, and make the fellow that sold 
it me swallow what's left — and I'll 
smash in his shop front besides ! " 

"Oh you won't — you mustn't — not 
on no account ! Stop at home a 
bit, and be quiet, it may go off with 
all this washing, in the course of the 
day. Soft soap is an uncommon 
strong thing for getting colours out — 
but — a — a — excuse me, Mr. Titmouse 
— why wasn't you satisfied with the 
hair God Almighty had given you ? 
D'ye think He didn't know a deal 
better than you what was best for 
you ? I'm blest if I don't think this 
is a judgment on you." 

"What's the use of your standing 
preaching to me in this way, Mrs. 
Squallop ? " said Titmouse, first with 
amazement, and then with fury in 
his manner — " A'n't I half mad with- 
out it ? Judgment or no judgment — 
where's the harm of my wanting black 
hair any more than black trousers ? 
That a'n't your own hair, Mrs. Squal- 
lop — you're as grey as a badger under- 
neath 1 — • 'pon my soul ! I've often 
remarked it." 

"I'll tell you what, Mr. himper- 
ance ! " furiously exclaimed Mrs. Squal- 
lop, " you're a liar ! And you deserve 



what you've got ! It is a judgment, 
and I hope it will stick by you — so take 
that for your sauce, you vulgar fellow ! " 
(snapping her fingers at him.) " Get 
rid cf your green hair if you can ! It's 
only carrot tops instead of carrot roots 
— and some likes one, some the other — 
ha ! ha ! ha ! " 

"I'll tell you what, Mrs. Squ " 

he commenced, but she had gone, hav- 
ing slammed to the door behind her 
with all her force; and Titmouse was left 
alone in a half frantic state, in which 
he continued for nearly two hours. 
Once again he read over the atrocious 
puffs which had overnight inflated him 
to such a degree, and he now saw that 
they were all lies. This is a sample 
of them : — 

' ' This divine fluid (as it was enthu- 
siastically styled to the inventor, by 
the lovely Duchess of Doodle) possesses 
the inestimable and astonishing quality 
of changing hair, of whatever colour, 
to a dazzling jet black ; at the same 
time imparting to it a rich glossy ap- 
pearance, which wonderfully contri- 
butes to the imposing tout ensemble 
presented by those who use it. That 
well-known ornament of the circle of 
fashion, the young and lovely Mrs. 
Fitzfrippery, owned to the proprietor 
that to this surprising fluid it was that 
she was indebted for those unrivalled 
raven ringlets which attracted the eyes 
of envying and admiring crowds," and 
so forth. A little further on : — " This 
exquisite effect is not in all cases pro- 
duced instantaneously ; much will of 
course depend (as the celebrated M. 
Dupuytren, of the Hotel Dieu, at Paris, 
informed the inventor) on the physical 
idiosyncrasy of the party using it, with 
reference to the constituent particles of 
the colouring matter constituting the 
fluid in the capillary vessels. Often a 
single application suffices to change the 
most hopeless-looking head of red hair 
to as deep a black ; but, not un- 
frequently, the hair passes through in- 
termediate shades and tints — all, how- 
ever, ultimately settling into a deep 
and permanent black. " 

This passage not a little revived the 
drooping spirits of Titmouse. Acci- 
dentally, however, an asterisk at the 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



107 



last word in the above sentence, directed 
his rye to a note at the bottom of the 
pri^e, printed in such minute type as 
battled any but the strongest sight and 
mo t determined eye to read, and which 
said note was the following : — 

"f Though cases do, undoubtedly, 
occasionally occur, in which the native 
inherent indestructible qualities of the 
hair defy all attempts at change or even 
modification, and resist even this potent 
remedy : of which, however, in all his 
experience " (the wonderful specific has 
been invented for about six months) 
' ' the inventor has known but very few 
instances." But to this exceedingly 
select class of unfortunate incurables, 
poor Titmouse, alas ! entertained a 
dismal suspicion that he belonged ! 

"Look, sir! Look! Only look 
here what your cussed stuff has done 
to my hair ! " said Titmouse, on pre- 
senting himself soon after to the gentle- 
man who had sold him the infernal 
liquid ; and, taking off his hat, exposed 
his green hair. The gentleman, how- 
ever, did not appear at all surprised, 
or discomposed. 

" Ah— yes ! I see — I see. You're in 
the intermediate stage. It differs in 
different people " 

"Differs, sir! I'm going mad! I 
look like a green monkey — Cuss me if 
I don't ! " 

' ' In me, now, the colour was a strong 
yellow. But, have you read the explan- 
ations that are given in the wrapper ? " 

"Kead 'em ?" echoed Titmouse furi- 
ously — "I should think so! Much good 
they do me .' Sir, you're a humbug ! 
— an impostor ! I'm a sight to be 
seen for the rest of my life ! Look at 
me, sir ! Eyebrows, whiskers, and 
all ! " 

"Rather a singular appearance, just 
at present, I must own," said the 
gentleman, his face turning suddenly 
red all over with the violent effort he 
was making to prevent an explosion of 
laughter. He soon, however, recovered 
himself, and added coolly — " If you'll 
only persevere— — " 

" Persevere be d d ! " interrupted 

Titmouse, violently clapping his hat 
on his head, ' ' I'll teach you to 
persevere in taking in the public 1 I'll 



have a warrant out against you in no 
time ! " 

"Oh, my dear sir, I'm accustomed 
to all this ! " said the gentleman coolly. 

" The — devil — you — are ! " gasped 
Titmouse, quite aghast. 

" Oh, often — often, while the liquid 
is performing the first stage of the 
change ; but, in a day or two afterwards, 
the parties generally come back smil- 
ing into my shop, with heads as black 
as crows ! " 

"No! But really— do they, sir?" 
interrupted Titmouse, drawing a long 
breath. 

" Hundreds, I may say thousands, 
my dear sir ! And one lady gave me 
a picture of herself, in her black hair, 
to make up for her abuse of me when 
it was in a puce colour — Fact, honour ! " 

" But do you recollect any one's 
hair turning green, and then getting 
black ? " enquired Titmouse with trem- 
bling anxiety. 

"Recollect any? Fifty, at least. 
For instance, there was Lord Albert 
Addlehead — but why should I name 
names ? I know hundreds ! But 
everything is honour and confidential 
here!" 

"And did Lord what's-his-name's 
hair go green, and then black ; and 
was it at first as light as mine ? " 

" His hair was redder, and in conse- 
quence it became greener, and now is 
blacker than ever yours will be." 

' ' "Well, if I and my landlady have 
this morning used an ounce, we've used a 
quarter of a pound of soft soap in — — " 

" Soft soap ! — soft soap ! " cried out 
the gentleman with an air of sudden 
alarm — "That explains all," (he forgot 
how well it had already been explained 
by him.) "By Heavens, sir ! — soft soap ! 
You may have ruined your hair for 
ever ! " Titmouse opened his eyes and 
mouth with a start of terror, it not 
occurring to his reflecting mind that 
the intolerable green had preceded and 
caused, not followed, the use of the soft 
soap. "Go home, my dear sir! God 
bless you— go home, as you value your 
hair ; take this small bottle of Damas- 
cus Cream, and rub it in before it's 
too late ; and then use the remainder 
of the " 



108 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



"Then you don't think it's already 
too late ? " enquired Titmouse faintly ; 
and having been assured to the con- 
trary — having asked the price of the 
Damascus cream, which was "only 
three-and-sixpence," (stamp included) 
— he paid it with a rueful air, and 
took his departure. He sneaked along 
the streets with the air of a pick- 
pocket, fearful that every one he met 
was an officer who had his eye on him. 
He was not, in fact, very far off the 
mark ; for many a person smiled, and 
stared, and turned round to look at 
him as he went along. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Titmouse slunk up-stairs to his 
room in a sad state of depression, and 
spent the next hour in rubbing into 
his hair the Damascus cream. He 
rubbed till he could hardly hold his 
arms up any longer, from sheer fatigue. 
Having risen at length to mark, from 
the glass, the progress he had made, 
he found that the only result of his 
persevering exertions had been to give 
a greasy shining appearance to the 
hair, that remained as green as ever. 
With a half-uttered groan he sunk 
down upon a chair, and fell into a 
sort of abstraction, which was inter- 
rupted by a sharp knock at his door. 
Titmouse started up, trembled, and 
stood for a moment or two irresolute, 
glancing fearfully at the glass ; and 
then, opening the door, let in Mr. 
Gammon, who started back a pace or 
two, as if he had been shot, on catch- 
ing sight of the strange figure of Tit- 
mouse. It was useless for Gammon 
to try to check his laughter ; so, lean- 
ing against the door-post, he yielded 
to the impulse, and laughed without 
intermission for at least two minutes. 
Titmouse felt desperataly angry, but 
feared to show it ; and the timid, 
rueful, lackadaisical air with which he 
regarded the dreaded Mr. Gammon, 
only prolonged and aggravated the 
agonies of that gentleman. When at 



length he had a little recovered him- 
self, holding his left hand to his side, 
with an exhausted air, he entered the 
little apartment, and asked Titmouse 
what in the name of heaven he had 
been doing to himself: " Without 
this" (in the absurd slang of the 
lawyers) that he suspected most 
vehemently all the while quite well 
what Titmouse had been about ; but 
he wished to hear Titmouse's own 
account of the matter ! — Titmouse, not 
daring to hesitate, complied — Gammon 
listening in an agony of suppressed 
laughter. He looked as little at Tit- 
mouse as he could, and was growing 
a trifle more sedate, when Titmouse, 
in a truly lamentable tone, enquired, 
"What's the good, Mr. Gammon, of 
ten thousand a-year with such a horrid 
head rof hair as this ? " On hearing 
which Gammon jumped off his chair, 
started to the window, and laughed 
for one or two minutes without ceasing. 
This was too much for Titmouse, who 
presently cried aloud in a lamentable 
manner ; and Gammon, suddenly 
ceasing his laughter, turned round 
and apologized in the most earnest 
manner ; after which he uttered an 
abundance of sympathy for the suffer- 
ings which ' ' he deplored being unable 
to alleviate." He even restrained 
himself when Titmouse again and 
again asked if he could not "have 
the law " of the man who had so 
imposed on him. Gammon diverted 
the thoughts of his suffering client, by 
taking from his pocket some very im- 
posing packages of paper, tied round 
with red tape. From time to time, 
however, he almost split his nose with 
efforts to restrain his laughter, on 
catching a fresh glimpse of poor Tit- 
mouse's emerald hair. Mr. Gammon 
was a man of business, however ; and 
in the midst of all this distracting 
excitement, contrived to get Tit- 
mouse's signature to sundry papers of 
no little consequence ; amongst others, 
first, to a bond conditioned for the 
payment of £500 ; secondly, another 
for £10,000 ; and lastly, an agreement 
(of which he gave Titmouse an alleged 
C0 Py) by which Titmouse, in con- 
sideration of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



109 



and Snap using their best exertions to 
put him in possession of the estate, 
&c. &c, bound himself to conform to 
their wishes in everything, on pain of 
their instantly throwing up the whole 
affair, looking out for another heir-at- 
law (!) and issuing execution forth- 
with against Titmouse for all expenses 
incurred under his retainer. I said 
that Gammon gave his confiding client 
an alleged copy of this agreement ; — 
it was not a real copy, for certain 
stipulations appeared in each that 
were not intended to appear in the 
other, for reasons which were perfectly 
satisfactory to Messrs. Quirk, Gam- 
mon, and Snap. When Gammon had 
got to this point, he thought it the 
fitting opportunity for producing a 
second five-pound note. He did so, 
and put Titmouse thereby into an 
ecstasy, which pushed out of his head 
for a while all recollection of what had 
happened to his hair. He had at that 
moment nearly eleven pounds in hard 
cash ! Gammon easily obtained from 
him an account of his little money 
transactions with Huckaback — of 
which, however, all he could tell was 
— that for ten shillings down, he had 
given a written engagement to pay 
fifty pounds on getting the estate. 
Of this Gammon made a careful 
memorandum, explaining the atrocious 
villainy of Huckaback — and, in short, 
that if he (Titmouse) did not look 
very sharply about him, he would be 
robbed right and left ; so that it was 
of the utmost consequence to him 
early to learn how to distinguish 
between false and true friends. Gam- 
mon went "on to assure him that the 
instrument he had given to Huckaback 
was probably, in point of law, not 
worth a farthing, on the ground of its 
being both fraudulent and usurious ; 
and intimated something, which Tit- 
mouse did not very distinctly com- 
prehend, about the efficacy of a bill 
in equity for a discovery ; which, at a 
very insignificant expense, (not ex- 
ceeding £100,) would enable the 
plaintiff in equity to put the defend- 
ant in equity, {i.e. Huckaback,) in the 
way of declaring, on his solemn oath, 
that he had advan-ed the full sum of 



£50 : and having obtained this im- 
portant and satisfactory result, Tit- 
mouse would have the opportunity of 
disproving the statement of Hucka- 
back — if ha could ; which of course he 
could not. By this process, however, 
a little profitable employment would 
have been afforded to a certain dis- 
tinguished firm in Saffron Hill — and 
that was something — to Gammon. 

' ' But, by the way, talking of 
money," said Titmouse suddenly, 
"you can't think how surprising 
handsome Mr. Tag-rag has behaved 
to me ! " 

"Indeed, my dear sir! " exclaimed 
Gammon, with real curiosity, "what 
has he done ? " 

"Advanced me five pounds — all of 
his own head ! " 

"Are you serious, Mr. Titmouse ?" 
enquired Gammon. 

Titmouse produced the change 
which he had obtained for Tag-rag's 
five-pound note, minus only the prices 
of the Cyanochaitanthropopoion, the 
Damascus cream, and the eye-glass. 
Gammon merely stroked his chin in 
a thoughtful manner. So occupied, 
indeed, was he with his reflections, 
that though his eye was fixed on the 
ludicrous figure of Titmouse, which so 
shortly before had occasioned him 
such paroxysms of laughter, he did 
not feel the least inclination even to a 
smile. Tag-rag advance Titmouse five 
pounds ! Throwing as much smiling 
indifference into his manner as was 
possible, he asked Titmouse the 
particulars of so strange a transaction. 
Titmouse answered (how truly the 
reader can judge) that Mr. Tag-rag 
had, in the very handsomest way, 
volunteered the loan of five pounds ; 
and moreover offered him any further 
sum he might require ! 

' ' What a charming change, Mr. 
Titmouse ! " exclaimed Gammon, with 
a watchful eye and anxious smile. 

" Most delightful, 'pon my soul ! " 

"Rather sudden, too! — eh? — Mr. 
Titmouse ? " 

' ' Why — no — no ; I should say, 'pon 
my life, certainly not. The fact is, 
we've long misunderstood each other. 
He's had an uncommon good opinion 



110 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR 



of me all the while — people have tried ' 
to set him against me ; but it's no 
use, he's found them out — he told me 
so ! And he's not only said, but done 
the handsome thing ! He's turned 
up, by Jove, a trump all of a sudden 
— though it long looked an ugly card. " 

"Ha, ha, ha! — very !— how curi- 
ous!" exclaimed Mr. Gammon, 
mechanically revolving several im- 
portant matters in his mind. 

"I'm going, too, to dine at Satin 
Lodge, Mr. Tag-rag's country house, 
next Sunday." 

" Indeed ! It will be quite a change 
for you, Mr. Titmouse ! " 

"Yes, it will, by Jove ; and — a — a 
— what's more — there's — hem ! — you 
understand ? " 

" Go on, I beg, my dear Mr. 
Titmouse " 

"There's a lady in the case — not 
that she's said anything ; but a nod's 
as good as a wink to a blind horse — 
eh? Mr. Gammon?" 

' ' I should think so — Miss Tag-rag 
will have money, of course ? " 

" You've hit it ! Lots ! But I've 
not made up my mind." 

[I'd better undeceive this poor 
devil at once, as to this sordid wretch 
Tag-rag, (thought Gammon,) otherwise 
the cunning old rogue may get a very 
mischievous hold upon him ! And a 
lady in the case ! The old scamp has 
a daughter ! Whew ! this will never 
do ! The sooner I enlighten my young 
friend, the better — though at a little 
risk.] 

"It's very important to be able to 
tell who are real and who false friends, 
as I was saying just now, my dear 
Titmouse," said Gammon seriously. 

"I think so. Now look, for in- 
stance, there's that fellow Huckaback. 
I should say he " 

' ' Pho ! pho ! my dear sir, a mere 
beetle — he's not worth thinking of, 
one way or the other. But, can't you 
guess another sham friend, who has 
changed so suddenly." 

" Do you mean Mr. Tag-rag — eh ? " 

"I mention no names; but it's 
rather odd, that when I am speaking 
of hollow-hearted friends, you should 
at once name Mr. Tag-rag." 



"The proof of the pudding— hand- 
some is that handsome does ; and 
I've got £5 of his money, at any 
rate." 

' ' Of course, he took no security 
for such a trifle, between such close 
friends as you and him ? " 

' ' Oh — why — now you mention it — 
But 'twas only a line — one line." 

"I knew it, my dear sir," inter- 
rupted Gammon calmly, with a signi- 
ficant smile — " Tag-rag and Hucka- 
back, they're on a par — ah, ha, ha ! 
My dear Titmouse, you are too honest 
and confiding ! " 

"What keen eyes you lawyers have, 
to be sure ! Well — I never" — he was 
evidently somewhat staggered. " I — 
I — must say," he presently added, 
looking gratefully at Gammon, " I 
think I do now know of a true friend, 
that sent me two five-pound notes, 
and never asked for any security." 

' ' My dear sir, you really pain me by 
alluding to such a matter ! " 

[Oh, Gammon, is not this too bad ! 
What are the papers which you know 
are now in your pocket, signed only 
this very evening by Titmouse ?] 

" You are not a match for Tag-rag, 
Titmouse ; because he was made for a 
tradesman — you are not. Do you 
think he would have parted with his 
£5 but for value received ? Oh, Tag- 
rag ! Tag-rag ! " 

"I — I really begin to think, Mr. 
Gammon — 'pon my soul, I do think 
you're right." 

"Think ! — Why — for a man of your 
acuteness — how could he imagine you 
could forget the long course of insult 
and tyranny which you have endured 
under him ; that he should change all 
of a sudden — just now, when •" 

"Ay, by Jove ! just when I'm com- 
ing into my property," interrupted 
Titmouse quickly. 

"To be sure — to be sure! Just 
now, I say, to make this sudden 
change ! Bah ! bah ! " 

"I hate Tag-rag, and always did. 
Now, he's trying to take me in, just 
as he does everybody ; but I've found 
him out ; I won't lay out a penny with 
him ! " 

"Would you, do you think, evr 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



Ill 



inside of Satin Lodge, 
don't know ; I really 



have seen th 
if you hadn't 

"Why, I 
think — hem ! 

" Would you, my dear sir? — But 
now a scheme occurs to me — a very 
amusing idea indeed ! Ah, ha, ha ! — 
Shall I tell you a way of proving to his 
own face how insincere and interested 
he is towards you ? Go to dinner by all 
means, eat his good things, hear all 
that the, whole set of them have to 
say, and just before you go, (it will 
require you to have your wits about 
you, ) pretend, with a long face, that 
our affair is all a bottle of smoke : say 
that Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap 
have told you the day before that they 
had made a horrid mistake, and you 
were the wrong man " 

" Ton my life, I — I— really," stam- 
mered Titmouse, "daren't — I couldn't 
— I couldn't keep it up — he'd half kill 
me. Besides, there will be Miss Tag- 
rag — it would be the death of her, I 
know." 

" Miss Tag-rag ! Gracious Heavens ! 
What on earth can you have to do 
with her? You — why, if you really 
succeed in getting this fine property, 
she might make a very suitable wife 
for one of your grooms — ah, ha ! — But 
for you — absurd ! " 

"Ah ! I don't know — she may be a 
devilish fine girl, and the old fellow 
will have a tolerable penny to leave 
her — and a bird in the hand — eh ? 
Besides, I know what she's all along 
thought — hem ! — but that doesn't 
signify." 

"Pho! pho! Ridiculous! Ha, 
ha, ha ! Fancy Miss Tag-rag Mrs. 
Titmouse ! Your eldest son — ah, ha, 
ha ! Tag-rag Titmouse, Esq. Delight- 
ful ! Your honoured father a draper 
in Oxford Street ! " All this might 
be very clever, but it did not seem to 
tell upon Titmouse, whose little heart 
had been reached by a cunning hint of 
Tag-rag's, concerning his daughter's 
flattering estimate of Titmouse's per- 
sonal appearance. The reason why 
Gammon attacked so seriously a matter 
which appeared so chimerical and pre- 
posterous, was this — that, according 
to his present plan, Titmouse was to 



remain for some considerable while at 
Tag-rag's, and, with his utter weak- 
ness of character, might be worked 
upon by Tag-rag and his daughter, 
and get inveigled into an engagement 
which might be productive, hereafter, 
of no little embarrassment. He suc- 
ceeded, however, at length, in obtain- 
ing Titmouse's promise to adopt his 
suggestion, and thereby discover the 
true nature of the feelings entertained 
towards him at Satin Lodge. He 
shook Titmouse energetically by the 
hand, and left him perfectly certain, 
that if there was one person in the 
world worthy of his esteem, and even 
reverence, that person was Oily Gam- 
mon, Esq. 

As he bent his steps towards Saffron 
Hill, he reflected rather anxiously on 
several matters that had occurred to 
him during the interview which I 
have just described. On reaching the 
office, he was presently closeted with 
Mr. Quirk, to whom, first and fore- 
most, he exhibited and delivered the 
documents to which he had obtained 
Titmouse's signature, and which, the 
reader will allow me to assure him, 
were of a somewhat different texture 
from a certain legal instrument or 
security which I laid before him some 
little time ago. 

"Now, Gammon," said the old 
gentleman, as soon as he had locked 
up in his safe the above-mentioned 
documents — "Now, Gammon, I think 
we may be up and at 'em ; load our 
guns, and blaze away," and he rubbed 
his hands. 

"Perhaps so, Mr. Quirk," replied 
Gammon; "but we must, for no 
earthly consideration, be premature in 
our operations ! Let me, by the way, 
tell you one or two little matters that 
have just occurred to Titmouse ! " — 
Then he told Mr. Quirk of the effects 
which had followed the use of the 
potent Cyanochaitanthropopoion, at 
which old Quirk almost laughed him- 
self into fits. When, however, Gam- 
mon, with a serious air, mentioned 
the name of Miss Tag-rag, and his 
grave suspicions concerning her, Q;iirk 
bounced up out of his chair, almost 
startling Gammon out of Mx. ]f be 



112 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



had just been told that his banker had 
broke, he could scarce have shown 
more emotion. 

The fact was, that he, too, had a 
D aughtek — an only child — Miss Quirk 
■ — whom he had destined to become 
Mrs. Titmouse. 

" A designing old villain ! " he ex- 
claimed at length, and Gammon agreed 
with him ; but, strange to say, with 
all his acuteness, never adverted to 
the real cause of Quirk's sudden and 
vehement exclamation. When Gam- 
mon told him of the manner in which 
he had opened Titmouse's eyes to the 
knavery of Tag-rag, and the expedient 
he had suggested for its demonstration, 
Quirk could have worshipped Gammon, 
and could not help rising and shaking 
him very energetically by the hand, 
much to his astonishment. After a 
long consultation, two things were 
agreed upon by the partners ; to look 
out fresh lodgings for Titmouse, and 
remove him presently altogether from 
the company and influence of Tag-rag. 
Some time after they had parted, Quirk 
came with an eager air into Mr. Gam- 
mon's room, with a most important 
suggestion ; viz. whether it would not 
be possible for them to get Tag-rag to 
become a surety to them, by and by, 
on behalf of Titmouse ? Gammon was 
delighted ! — He heartily commended 
Mr. Quirk's sagacity, and promised to 
turn it about in his thoughts very 
carefully. Not having been let en- 
tirely into Quirk's policy, (of which 
the reader has, however, just had a 
glimpse,) Mr. Gammon did not see the 
difficulties which kept Quirk awake 
almost all that night ; viz. how to 
protect Titmouse from the machina- 
tions of Tag-rag and his daughter, and 
yet keep Tag-rag sufficiently interested 
in, and intimate with, Titmouse, to 
entertain, by and by, the idea of 
becoming surety for him to them, the 
said Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap ; and — withal — how to manage 
Titmouse all the while, so as to for- 
ward their objects, and also that of 
turning his attention towards Miss 
Quirk ; all this formed really rather a 
difficult problem ! — Quirk looked down 
on Tag-rag with honest indignation, 



as a mean and mercenary fellow, whose 
unprincipled schemes, thank Heaven ! 
he already saw through, and from 
which he resolved to rescue his inno- 
cent and confiding client, who was 
made for better things — to wit, Miss 
Quirk. 

When Titmouse rose the next morn- 
ing, (Saturday,) behold — he found his 
hair had become of a variously shaded 
purple or violet colour ! Astonishment 
and apprehension by turns possessed 
him, as he stared into the glass, at 
this unlooked-for change of colour ; 
and hastily dressing himself, after 
swallowing a very slight breakfast, off 
he went once more to the scientific 
establishment in Bond Street, to which 
he had been indebted foi' his recent 
delightful experiences. The distin- 
guished inventor and proprietor of the 
Cyanoehaitanthropopoion was behind 
the counter as usual — calm and confi- 
dent as ever. 

" Ah ! I see — as I said ! as I said ! " 
quoth he, with a sort of glee in his 
manner. "Isn't it? — coming round 
quicker than usual — Really, I'm sell- 
ing more of the article than I can 
possibly make." 

"Well," — at length said Titmouse, 
as soon as he had recovered from the 
surprise occasioned by the sudden volu- 
bility with which he had been assailed 
on entering — <: then is it really going 
on tolerable well ? " taking off his hat, 
and looking anxiously into a glass that 
hung close by. 

" Tolerable well, my dear sir ! De- 
lightful ! Perfect! Couldn't be better! 
If you'd studied the thing, you'd know, 
sir, that purple is the middle colour 
between green and black. Indeed, 
black's only purple and green mixed, 
which explains the whole thing ! " 
Titmouse listened with infinite satis- 
faction to this philosophical statement. 

' ' Remember, sir — my hair is to 
come like yours — eh ? you recollect, 
sir ? Honour — that was the bargain, 
you know ! " 

"■ I have very little doubt of it, sir — 
nay, I am certain of it, knowing it bv 
experience." 

[The scamp had been hired expressly 
for the purpose of lying thus in sup- 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



113 



port of the Cyanochaitanthropopoion ; 
his own hair being a natural black.] 

"I'm going to a grand dinner to- 
morrow, sir," said Titmouse, "with 
some devilish great people, at the west 
end of the town — eh ? you understand ? 
will it do by that time ? Would give 
a trifle to get my hair a shade darker 
by that time— for — hem ! — most lovely 
girl — eh ? you understand the thing ? 
— devilish anxious, and all that sort 
of thing, you know ! " 

"Yes — I do," replied the gentle- 
man of the shop, in a confidential tone ; 
and opening one of the glass doors 
behind him, took out a bottle consider- 
ably larger than the first, and handed 
it to Titmouse. "This," said he, "will 
complete the thing ; it combines 
chemically with the purple particles, 
and the result is — generally arrived at 
in about two days' time " 

' ' But it will do something in a night's 
time — eh ? — surely. " 

"I should think so! But here it 
is — it is called the Tbtaeagmenon 
Abracadabra." 

"What a name!" exclaimed Tit- 
mouse with a kind of awe. "Ton 
honour, it almost takes one's breath 
away " 

" It will do more, sir ; it will take 
your red hair away ! By the way, only 
the day before yesterday, a lady of high 
rank, (between ourselves, Lady Caroline 
Carrot,) whose red hair always seemed 
as if it would have set her bonnet in a 
blaze — ha, ha ! — came here, after two 
days' use of the Cyanocliaitanthropo- 
poion, and one day's use of this Teta- 
ragmenon Abracadabra — and asked me 
if I knew her. Upon my soul I did 
not, till she solemnly assured me she 
was really Lady Caroline ! " 

' ' How much is it ? " eagerly enquired 
Titmouse, thrusting his hand into his 
pocket, with no little excitement. 

" Only nine-and-sixpence." 

"Oh, my stars, what a price! 
Nine-and-six " 

"Ah, but would you have believed 
it, sir? This extraordinary fluid cost 
a great German chemist his whole life 
to bring to perfection ; and it contains 
expensive materials from all the four 
corners of the world ! " 



"That may be — but really — I've 
laid out a large figure with you, sir, 
this day or two ! Couldn't you say 
eight sh " 

"We never abate, sir ; it's not our 
style of doing business," replied the 
gentleman, in a manner that quite 
overawed poor Titmouse, who at once 
bought this, the third abomination ; 
not a little depressed, however, at the 
heavy prices he had paid for the three 
bottles, and the uncertainty he felt as 
to the ultimate issue. That night he 
was so well satisfied with the progress 
which the hair on his head was making, 
(for, by candle-light, it really looked 
much darker than could have been 
expected,) that he resolved — at all 
events for the present — to leave well 
alone ; or at the utmost, to try the 
effects of the Tetaragmenon Abracada- 
bra only upon his eyebrows and 
whiskers. Into them he rubbed the 
new specific ; which, on the bottle 
being opened, surprised him in two 
respects : first, it was perfectly colour- 
less ; secondly, it had a most infernal 
smell. However, it was no use hesi- 
tating : he had bought and paid for it ; 
and the papers it was folded in gave an 
account of its success that was really 
irresistible and unquestionable. Away, 
therefore, he rubbed ; and when he 
had finished, got into bed, in humble 
hope as to the result, which would be 
disclosed by the morning's light. But, 
alas ! would you have believed it ? 
When he looked at himself in the 
glass, about six o'clock, (at which hour 
he awoke, ) I protest it is a fact, that 
his eyebrows and whiskers were as 
white as snow ; which, combining with 
the purple colour of the hair on his 
head, rendered him one of the most 
astounding objects (in human shape) 
the eye of man had ever beheld. 
There was the wisdom of age seated 
in his eyebrows and whiskers, unspeak- 
able youthful folly in his features, and 
a purple crown of wonder on his 
head. 

Really, it seemed as if the devil were 
wreaking his spite on Mr. Titmouse ; 
nay, perhaps it was the devil himself 
who had served him with the bottles 
in Bond Street. Or was it a mere 



114 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



ordinary servant of the devil — some 
greedy, impudent, unprincipled specu- 
lator, who, desirous of acting on the 
approved maxim— Fiat experimentum 
in corporc vili — had pitched on Tit- 
mouse (seeing the sort of person he 
was) as a godsend, quite reckless what 
effect he produced on his hair, so as 
the stuff was paid for, and its effects 
noted ? It might possibly have been 
sport to the gentleman of the shop, 
but it was near proving death to poor 
Titmouse, who really might have re- 
solved on throwing himself out of 
the window, only that he saw it was 
not big enough for a baby to get 
through. He turned aghast at the 
monstrous object which his little glass 
presented to him ; and sunk down 
upon the bed with a feeling as if he 
were now fit for death. As before, 
Mrs. Squallop made her appearance 
with his kettle for breakfast. He was 
sitting at the table dressed, and with 
his arms folded, with a reckless air, 
not at all caring to conceal the new 
and still more frightful change which 
he had undergone since she saw him 
last. Mrs. Squallop stared at him for 
a second or two in silence ; then, step- 
ping back out of the room, suddenly 
drew to the door, and stood outside, 
laughing vehemently. 

"I'll kickyou down-stairs ! " shouted 
Titmouse, rushing to the door, pale 
with fury, and pulling it open. 

" Mr. — Mr. — Titmouse, you'll be 
the death of me — you will — you will ! " 
gasped Mrs. Squallop, almost black in 
the face, and the water running out of 
the kettle, which she was unconsciously 
holding in a slant. After a while, 
however, they got reconciled. Mrs. 
Squallop had fancied he had been but 
rubbing chalk on his eyebrows and 
whiskers ; and seemed dismayed, in- 
deed, on hearing the true state of the 
case. He implored her to send out 
for a small bottle of ink ; but as it 
was Sunday morning none could be 
got ; and she teased him to try a little 
blacking ! He did — but, of course, it 
was useless. He sat for an hour or two 
in an ecstasy of grief and rage. What 
would he now have given never to have 
meddled with the hair which Heaven 



had thought fit to send him into the 
world with ? Alas, with what mourn- 
ful force Mrs. Squallop's words again 
and again recurred to him ! To say 
that he ate breakfast would be scarcely 
correct. He drank a single cup of 
cocoa, and ate about three inches' 
length and thickness of a roll, and 
then put away his breakfast things on 
the window shelf. If he had been in 
the humour to go to church, how 
could he ? He would have been turned 
out as an object involuntarily exciting 
everybody 'to laughter ! 

Yet, poor soul, in this extremity of 
misery, he was not utterly neglected ; 
for he had that morning quite a little 
levee. First came Mr. Snap, who, 
having quite as keen and clear an eye 
for his own interest as his senior part- 
ners, had early seen how capable was 
acquaintance with Titmouse of being 
turned to his (Snap's) great advan- 
tage. He had come, therefore, dressed 
very stylishly, to do a little bit of 
toadying on the sly, (on his own ex- 
clusive account ;) and had brought 
with him, for the edification of Tit- 
mouse, a copy of that day's Sunday 
Flash, which contained a long account 
of a bloody fight between Birmingham 
Bigbones and London Littlego, for 
£500 a-side (sixty rounds had been 
fought, both men killed, and their 
seconds had bolted to Boulogne. ) Poor 
Snap, however, though he had come 
with the best intentions, and the most 
any.ious wish to evince profound re- 
spect for the future master of ten 
thousand a-year, was quite taken by 
storm by the very first glimpse he 
got of Titmouse, and could not for a 
long while recover himself. He had 
come to ask Titmouse to dine with 
him at a tavern in the Strand, where 
there was to be capital singing in the 
evening ; and also to accompany him, 
on the ensuing morning, to the Old 
Bailey, to hear "a most interesting 
trial " for bigamy, in which Snap was 
concerned for the prisoner — a mis- 
creant, who had been married to five 
living women. Snap conceived (and 
very justly) that it would give Tit- 
mouse a striking idea of his (Snap's) 
importance, to see him so much, and 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



115 



apparently so familiarly concerned 
with well-known counsel. In his own 
terse and quaint way, he was explain- 
ing to Titmouse the various remedies 
he had against the Bond Street im-. 
postor, both by indictment and action 
on the case ; nay, (getting a little, how- 
ever, beyond his depth,) he assured 
the eager Titmouse, that a bill of 
discovery would lie in equity, to 
ascertain what the Tetaragmenon Ab- 
racadabra was composed of, with a 
view to his preferring an indictment 
against his owner, when his learned 
display was interrupted, by a double 
knock, and — oh, mercy on us ! — enter 
Mr. Gammon. Whether he or Snap 
felt more disconcerted, I cannot say ; 
but Snap looked the most confused and 
sneaking. Each told the other a lie, 
in as easy, good-natured a way as he 
could assume, concerning the object 
of his visit to Titmouse. Thus they 
were going on, when — another knock 
— and, " Is this Mr. Titmouse's ? " en- 
quired a voice, which brought a little 
colour into the face of both Gammon 
and Snap ; for it was absolutely old 
Quirk, who bustled breathless into the 
room, on his first visit, and seemed 
completely confounded by the sight of 
both his partners. What with this, 
and the amazing appearance presented 
by Titmouse, Mr. Quirk was so over- 
whelmed that he scarce spoke a syl- 
lable. Each of the three partners felt 
(in his own way) exquisite embarrass- 
ment. Huckaback, some time after- 
wards, made his appearance, but Mm 
Titmouse unceremoniously dismissed 
in a twinkling, in spite of a vehement 
remonstrance. But presently, behold 
another arrival — Mr. Tag-rag, who 
had come to announce that his car- 
riage, (i. e. a queer, rickety, little 
one-horse chaise, with a tallow-faced 
boy in it, in faded livery,) was waiting 
to convey Mr. Titmouse to Satin 
Lodge, and take him a long drive 
in the country ! Each of these four 
worthies could have spit in the other's 
face : first, for detecting, and, secondly, 
for rivalling him in his schemes upon 
Titmouse. A few minutes after the 
arrival of Tag-rag, Gammon, half- 
choked with disgust, and despising 



himself even more than his fellow- 
visitors, slunk off, followed almost 
immediately by Quirk, who was dying 
to consult him on this new aspect of 
affairs which had presented itself. 
Snap (who, ever since the arrival of 
Messrs. Quirk and Gammon, had felt 
like an ape on hot irons) very shortly 
followed in the footsteps of his part- 
ners, having made no engagement 
whatever with Titmouse ; and thus 
the enterprising and determined Tag- 
rag was left master of the field. He 
had in fact come to do business, and 
business he determined to do. As for 
Gammon, during the short time he 
had stayed, how he had endeared 
himself to Titmouse, by explaining, 
not aware that Titmouse had con- 
fessed all to Snap, the singular change 
in the colour of his hair to have been 
occasioned simply by the intense men- 
tal anxiety through which he had 
lately passed ! The anecdotes he told 
of sufferers, whose hair a single night's 
agony had changed to all the colours 
of the rainbow ! Though Tag-rag out- 
stayed all his fellow-visitors, in the 
manner which has been described, he 
could not prevail upon Titmouse to 
accompany him in his " carriage," for 
Titmouse pleaded a pressing engage- 
ment, (i. e, a desperate attempt he 
purposed making to obtain some ink,) 
but pledged himself to make his 
appearance at Satin Lodge at the 
appointed hour, (half-past three for 
four o'clock.) Away, therefore, drove 
Tag-rag, delighted that Satin Lodge 
would so soon contain so resplendent a 
visitor — indignant at the cringing, sy- 
cophantic attentions of Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap, against whom he 
resolved to put Titmouse on his guard, 
and infinitely astonished at the ex- 
traordinary change that had taken 
place in the colour of Titmouse's hair. 
Partly influenced by the explanation 
which Gammon had given of the phe- 
nomenon, Tag-rag resigned himself to 
feelings of simple wonder. Titmouse 
was doubtless passing through stages 
of physical' transmogrification, corre- 
sponding with the marvellous change 
that was taking place in his circum- 
stances ; — and for all he (Tag-rag) 

I 2 



116 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



knew, other and more extraordinary 
changes were going on ; Titmouse 
might be growing at the rate of half 
an inch a-day, and soon stand before 
him a man more than six feet high ! 
Considerations such as these invested 
Titmouse with intense and overpower- 
ing interest in the estimation of Tag- 
rag ; how could he make enough of 
him at Satin Lodge that day ? If 
ever that hardened sinner felt inclined 
to utter an inward prayer, it was as 
he drove home — that Heaven would 
array his daughter in angel hues to 
the eyes of Titmouse ! 

My friend Tittlebat made his appear- 
ance at the gate of Satin Lodge, at 
about a quarter to four o'clock. Good 
gracious, how he had dressed himself 
out ! He considerably exceeded his 
appearance when first presented to the 
reader. 

Miss Tag-rag had been before her 
glass ever since the instant of her re- 
turn from chapel, up to within ten 
minutes' time of Titmouse's arrival. 
An hour and a half at least had she 
bestowed on her hair, disposing it in 
little corkscrew and somewhat scanty 
curls, that quite glistened in bear's 
grease, hanging on each side of a pair 
of lean and sallow cheeks. The colour 
which ought to have distributed 
itself over her cheeks, in roseate deli- 
cacy, had thought fit to collect itself 
into the tip of her sharp lit; le nose. 
Her small grey eyes beamed with the 
gentle and attractive expression that 
was perceptible in her father's, and 
lier projecting under lip reminded 
everybody of that delicate feature in 
her mother. She was very short, and 
her figure rather skinny and angular. 
She wore her lilac-coloured frock ; 
her waist being pinched into a degree 
that made you think of a fit of the 
colic when you looked at her. A long 
red sash, tied in a most elaborate bow, 
gave a very brilliant air to her dress 
generally. She had a thin gold chain 
round her neck, and wore long white 
gloves ; her left hand holding her 
pocket-handkerchief, which she had 
suffused with bergamotte that scented 
the whole room. Mrs. Tag-rag had 
made herself very splendid, in a red 



silk gown and staring head-dress ; in 
fact, she seemed on fire. As for Mr. 
Tag-rag, whenever he was dressed in 
his Sunday clothes, he looked the 
. model of a dissenting minister ; in 
his black coat, waistcoat, and trousers, 
and primly-tied white neckerchief, 
with no shirt-collar visible. For a 
quarter of an hour had this interest- 
ing trio been standing at their parlour 
window, in anxious expectation of 
Titmouse's arrival ; their only amuse- 
ment being the numberless dusty 
stage-coaches driving every five min- 
utes close past their gate, (which was 
about ten yards from their house,) 
at once enlivening and ruralizing 
the scene. Oh, that poor laburnum 
— laden with dust, drooping with 
drought, and evidently in the very 
last stage of a decline — that was 
planted beside the little gate ! Tag- 
rag spoke of cutting it down ; but 
Mrs. and Miss Tag-rag begged its life 
a little longer — and then that subject 
dropped. How was it that, though 
both the ladies had sat under a 
thundering discourse from Mr. Dis- 
mal Horror that morning — they had 
never once since thought or spoke of 
him or his sermon — never even opened 
his "Groans?" The reason was plain. 
They thought of Titmouse, who was 
bringing "airs from heaven ;" while 
Horror brought only "blasts from 
hell" — and those they had every day 
in the week, (his sermons on the 
Sunday, his "Groans" on the week 
day. ) At length Miss Tag-rag's little 
heart fluttered violently, for her papa 
told her that Titmouse was coming 
up the road — and so he was. Not 
dreaming that he could be seen, he 
stood beside the gate for a moment, 
under the melancholy laburnum ; and, 
taking a dirty-looking silk handker- 
chief out of his hat, slapped it vigor- 
ously about his boots, (from which 
circumstance it may be inferred that 
he had walked, ) and replaced it in his 
hat. Then he unbuttoned his sur- 
tout, adjusted it nicely, and disposed 
his chain and eyeglass just so as to 
let the tip only of the latter be seen 
peeping out of his waistcoat ; twitched 
up his collars, plucked down his wrist* 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



117 



bands, drew the tip of a white pocket- 
handkerchief out of the pocket in the 
breast of his surtout, pulled a white 
glove half-way on his left hand ; and, 
having thus given the finishing touches 
to his toilet, opened the gate, and — 
Tittlebat Titmouse, Esquire, the grjat 
guest of the day, for the first time in 
his life (swinging a little ebony cane 
about with careless grace) entered the 
domain of Mr. Tag-rag. 

The little performance I have been 
describing, though every bit of it 
passing under the eyes of Tag-rag, 
his wife, and his daughter, had not 
excited a smile ; their anxious feelings 
were too deep to be reached or stirred 
by light emotions. Miss Tag-rag turned 
very pale and trembled. 

" La, pa ! " said she faintly, "how 
could you say he'd got white eyebrows 
and whiskers ? Why — they're a beauti- 
ful black ! " 

Tag-rag was speechless : the fact 
was so — for Titmouse had fortunately 
succeeded in obtaining a little bottle 
of ink, which he had applied with 
great effect. As Titmouse approached 
the house, (Tag-rag hurrying out to 
open the door for him,) he saw the 
two ladies standing at the windows. 
Off went his hat, and out dropped the 
silk handkerchief, not a little discon- 
certing him for the moment. Tag-rag, 
however, soon occupied his attention 
at the door with anxious civilities, 
shaking him by the hand, hanging 
up his hat and stick, and then intro- 
ducing him to the sitting-room. The 
ladies received him with the most pro- 
found curtsies, which Titmouse re- 
turned with a quick embarrassed bow, 
and an indistinct — "I hope you're 
well, mem ?" 

If they had had presence of mind 
enough to observe it, the purple colour 
of Titmouse's hair must have surprised 
them not a little ; all they could see, 
however, was — the angelic owner of 
ten thousand a-year. 

The only person tolerably at his 
ease, and he only tolerably, was Mr. 
Tag-rag ; and he asked his guest 

"Wash your hands, Titmouse, be- 
fore dinner '! " But Titmouse said he 
had washed them before he had come 



out. [The day was hot, and he had 
walked five miles at a slapping pace.] 
In a few minutes, however, he felt a 
little more assured ; for it was impos- 
sible for him not to perceive the awful 
deference with which he was treated. 

"Seen the Sunday Flash, mem ? " 
said he modestly, addressing Mrs. 
Tag-rag. 

" I — I — that is — not to-day," she 
replied, colouring. 

"Vastly amusing, isn't it ? " inter- 
posed Tag-rag, to prevent mischief — 
for he knew his wife would as soon 
have taken a cockatrice into her hand. 

"Ye — e — s, " replied Titmouse, 
who had not even glanced at the 
copy which Snap had brought him. 
"An uncommon good fight between 
Birmingham Big " 

Tag-rag saw his wife getting redder 
and redder. "No news stirring about 
Ministers, is there ? " said he, with 
a desperate attempt at a diversion. 

" Not that I have heard," replied 
Titmouse. Soon he got a little further, 
and said how cheerful the stages going 
past must make the house. Tag-rag 
agreed with him. Then there was 
a little pause. 

' ' Been to church, mem, this morn- 
ing, mem ? " timidly enquired Tit- 
mouse of Miss Tag-rag. 

" Yes, sir," she replied, faintly 
colouring, casting her eyes to the 
ground, and suddenly putting her 
hand into that of her mother — with 
such an innocent, engaging simplicity 
— like a timid fawn lying as close as 
possible to its dam ! * 

" We always go to chapel, sir," said 
Mrs. Tag-rag confidently, in spite of 
a very fierce look from her husband ; 
"the gospel isn't preached in the 
Church of England. We sit under 
Mr. Horror — a heavenly preacher ! 
You've heard of Mr. Horror ? " 

" Yes, mem ! Oh, yes ! Capital 
preacher ! " replied Titmouse, who of 
course (being a true churchman) had 
never in his life heard of Mr. Horror, 
or any other dissenter. 
* " Vitas hiimuleo me similis, Chlo6, 
Quierenti pavidam montis aviis 
Matrem. 

et oorde et genibua tremit." 

Hon. i. 23. 



118 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK. 



^ "When will dinner be ready, Mrs. 
T. ? " enquired Tag-rag abruptly, and 
with a very perceptible dash of stern- 
ness in his tone ; but dinner was an- 
nounced the very next moment. He 
took his wife's arm, and in doing so, 
gave it a sudden vehement pressure, 
which, coupled with a furious glance, 
explained to her the extent to which 
she had incurred his anger. She 
thought, however, of Mr. Horror, and 
was silent. 

Titmouse's proffered arm the timid 
Miss Tag-rag scarcely touched with 
the tip. of her finger, as she walked 
beside him to dinner. Titmouse soon 
got tolerably composed and cheerful 
at dinner (which consisted of a little 
piece of nice roast beef, with plenty 
of horse-radish, Yorkshire pudding, a 
boiled fowl, a plum-pudding made by 
Mrs. Tag-rag, and custards which had 
been superintended by Miss Tag-rag), 
and, to oblige his hospitable host and 
hostess, ate till he was fit to burst. 
Miss Tag-rag, though really very 
hungry, ate only a very small slice of 
beef and a quarter of a custard, and 
drank a third of a glass of sherry after 
dinner. She never once spoke, except 
in hurried answers to her papa and 
mamma ; and, sitting exactly oppo- 
site Titmouse (with only a plate of 
greens and a boiled fowl between them), 
was continually colouring whenever 
their eyes happened to encounter one 
another, on which occasion hers would 
suddenly drop, as if overpowered by 
the brilliance of his. Titmouse began 
to love her very fast. After the ladies 
had withdrawn, you should have 
heard the way that Tag-rag went on 
with Titmouse — I can liken the two 
to nothing but an old fat spider and 
a little fly, 

" Will you come into my parlour? 
Said the spider to the fly ; " 

and it might have been well for Tit- 
mouse to have answered, in the 
language of the aforesaid fly : — • 

" No, thank you, sir, I really feel 
No curiosity." 

Titmouse, however, swallowed with 
equal facility Mr. Tag-rag's hard port 
and his soft blarney ; but all fools 



have large swallows. When at length 
Tag-rag alluded to the painfully evi- 
dent embarrassment of his ' ' poor 
Tabby," and said he had "now found 
out what had been so long the matter 
with her," [ay, even this went down,] 
and hemmed, and winked his eye, and 
drained his glass, Titmouse began to 
get flustered, blushed, and hoped Mr. 
Tag-rag would soon "join the ladies." 
They did so (Tag-rag stopping behind 
to lock up the wine and the remains 
of the fruit). Miss Tag-rag presided 
over the tea-things. There were 
muffins, and crumpets, and reeking- 
hot buttered toast ; Mrs. Tag-rag 
would hear of no denial, so poor 
Titmouse, after the most desperate 
resistance, was obliged to swallow a 
round of toast, half a muffin, and an 
entire crumpet, and four cups of hot 
tea ; after which he felt a very painful 
degree of turgidity, and a miserable 
conviction that he should be able to 
eat and drink nothing more for the 
remainder of the week. 

After the tea-things had been re- 
moved, Tag-rag, directing Titmouse's 
attention to the piano, which was 
open (with some music on it ready to 
be played from), asked him whether he 
liked music. Titmouse, with great 
eagerness, hoped Miss T. would give 
them some music ; and she, after 
holding out a long and vigorous siege, 
at length asked her papa what it 
should be. 

" The Battle of Prague," said her 
papa. 

"Before Jehovah's awful throne," 
hastily interposed her mamma. 

" The Battle," sternly repeated her 
papa. 

"It's Sunday night, Mr. T.," 
meekly rejoined his wife. 

' ' Which will you have, Mr. Tit- 
mouse ? " enquired Tag-rag, with The 
Battle of Prague written in every 
feature of his face. Titmouse almost 
burst into a state of perspiration. 

' ' A little of both, sir, if you please. " 

"Well," replied Tag-rag, slightly 
relaxing, "that will do. Split the 
difference ■ — eh ? Come, Tab, down 
with you. Titmouse, will you turn 
over the music for her ? " 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



119 



Titmouse rose, and having sheepishly 
taken his station beside Miss Tag-rag, 
the performances commenced with 
Before Jehovah's awful throne ! But, 
mercy upon us ! at what a rate she 
rattled over that "pious air." If its 
respectable composer had been present, 
he must have gone into a fit ; but 
there was no help for it — the heart of 
the lovely performer was in The Untile 
of Prague, to which she presently did 
most ample justice. So much were 
her feelings engaged in that sublime 
composition, that the bursting of one 
of the strings — twang ! in the middle 
of the " cannonading," did not at all 
disturb her ; and, as soon as she had 
finished the exquisite "finale," Tit- 
mouse was in such a tumult of excite- 
ment, from different causes, that he 
could have shed tears. Though he 
had never once turned over at the 
right place, Miss Tag-rag thanked 
him for his services with a smile of 
infinite sweetness. Titmouse vowed 
he had never heard such splendid 
music — begged for more : and away 
went Miss Tag-rag, hurried away by 
her excitement. Rondo after rondo, 
march after march, for at least half 
an hour ; at the end of which old Tag- 
rag suddenly kissed her with passion- 
ate fondness. Though Mrs. Tag-rag 
was horrified at the impiety of all this, 
she kept a very anxious eye on the 
young couple, and interchanged with 
her husband, every now and then, 
very significant looks. Shortly after 
nine, spirits, wine, and hot and cold 
water, were brought in. At the sight 
of them Titmouse looked alarmed — 
for he knew that he must take some- 
thing more, though he would have 
freely given five shillings to be excused 
— for he felt as if he could not hold 
one drop more. But it was in vain. 
"Willy-nilly, a glass of gin and water 
stood soon before him ; he protested 
he could not touch it unless Miss Tag- 
rag would "take something" — where- 
upon, with a blush, she " thought she 
tcuidd " take a wine-glassful of sherry 
and water. This was provided her. 
Then Tag-rag mixed a tumbler of port- 
wine negus for Mrs. Tag-rag, and a 
great glass of mahogany-coloured 



brandy and water for himself ; and 
then he looked round, and felt per- 
fectly happy. As Titmouse advanced 
with his gin and water, his spirits got 
higher and higher, and his tongue 
more fluent. He once or twice dropped 
the "Mr.," when addressing Tag-rag ; 
several times smiled, and once even 
winked at the embarrassed Miss Tag- 
rag. Mr. Tag-rag saw it and could 
not control himself — for he had got 
to the end of his first glass of brandy 
and water, and mixed himself a second 
quite as strong as the former. 

" Tab ! ah, Tab ! what has been the 
matter with you all these months ?" — ■ 
and he winked his eye at her and then 
at Titmouse. 

"Papa!" exclaimed Miss Tag-rag, 
blushing up to her very temples. 

' ' Ah, Titmouse — Titmouse — give 
me your hand," said Tag-rag; "you'll 
forget us all when you're a great man 
— but we shall always remember 
you." 

"You're very good — very!" said 
Titmouse, cordially returning the 
pressure of Tag-rag's hand. — At that 
instant it suddenly occurred to him to 
adopt the suggestion of Mr. Gammon. 
Tag-rag was going on very fast, indeed, 
about the disinterested nature of his 
feelings towards Titmouse ; towards 
whom, he said, he had always felt 
just as he did at that moment — 'twas 
in vain to deny it. 

" 1 am sure your conduct shows it, 
sir," commenced Titmouse, feeling a 
shudder like that with which a timid 
bather approaches the margin of the 
cold stream. "I could have taken 
my oath, sir, you would have refused 
to let me come into your house, when 
you heard of it " 

"Ah ha! — that's rather an odd 
idea, too. If I felt a true friendship 
for you as plain Titmouse, it's so likely 
I should have cut you just when — ■ 
ahem ! My dear sir ! it was / that 
thought you wouldn't have come into 
my house ! A likely thing ! ' ' 

Titmouse was puzzled. His per- 
ceptions, never very quick or clear, 
were now undoubtedly somewhat ob- 
fuscated with what he had been drink- 
ing. In short, he did not understand 



120 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK. 



that Tag-rag had not understood Mm ; 
and felt rather baffled. 

"What surprising ups and downs 
there are in life, Mr. Titmouse ! " said 
Mrs. Tag-rag respectfully — "they're 
all sent from above, to try us ! No 
one knows how they'd behave, if as 
how (in a manner) they were turned 
upside down." 

"I — I hope, mem, I haven't done 
anything to show that I " 

' ' Oh ! my dear Titmouse, " anxiously 
interrupted Tag-rag, inwardly cursing 
his wife, who, finding she always went 
wrong in her husband's eyes whenever 
she spoke a word, determined for the 
future to stick to her negus — "the 
fact is, there's a Mr. Horror here that's 
for sending all decent people to — — . 
He's filled my wife there with all sorts 
of — — ■ nay, if she isn't bursting with 
cant — so never mind her. You done 
anything wrong ! You're a pattern of 
modesty and propriety — your hand, 
my dear Titmouse ! " 

"Well — -I'm a happy man again," 
resumed' Titmouse, resolved now to go 
on with his adventure. ' ' And when 
did they tell you of it, sir ? " 

" Oh, a few days ago — a week ago," 
replied Tag-rag, trying to recollect. 

"Why — why — sir — a'n't you mis- 
taken ? " enquired Titmouse, with a 
depressed, but at the same time a sur- 
prised air. "It only happened this 
morning, after you left " 

" Eh ?— eh ?— ah, ha !— What do you 
mean, Mr. Titmouse ? " interrupted 
Tag-rag, with a faint attempt at a 
smile. Mrs. Tag-rag and Miss Tag- 
rag also turned exceedingly startled 
faces towards Titmouse, who felt as if 
a house were going to fall down on him. 

"Why, sir," he began to cry, (an 
attempt which was greatly aided by 
the. maudlin condition to which drink 
had reduced him,) "till to-day, I 
thought I was heir to ten thousand a- 
year, and it seems I'm not ; it's all a 
mistake of those cursed people at 
Saffron Hill ! " 

Tag-rag's face changed visibly, and 
showed the desperate shock he had 
just sustained. His inward agony 
was forcing out on his slanting fore- 
head great drops of perspiration. 



" What — a — capital — joke — Mr. 
Titmouse — ah, ha ! " — he gasped, hasti- 
ly passing his handkerchief over his 
forehead. Titmouse, though greatly 
alarmed, stood to his gun pretty 
steadily. 

"I — I wish it was a joke! It's 
been no joke to me, sir. There's 
another Tittlebat Titmouse, it seems, 
in Shoreditch, that's the right — — " 

"Who told you this, sir? Pho, I 
don't — I can't believe it," said Tag- 
rag, in a voice tremulous between 
suppressed rage and fear. 

" True though, 'pon my life ! It is, 
so help me — ■ — " 

'" How dare you swear before ladies, 
sir ? You're insulting them, sir ! " 
cried Tag-rag, trembling with rage. 
"And in my presence, sir? You're 
not a gentleman ! " He suddenly 
dropped his voice, and, in a trembling 
and most earnest manner, asked Tit- 
mouse whether he was really joking or 
serious. 

"Never more serious in my life, 
sir ; and enough to make me so, sir ! " 
replied Titmouse, in a lamentable 
manner. 

"You mean to tell me it's all a 
mistake, then, and you're no more 
than you always were ? " enquired 
Tag-rag, with a desperate attempt to 
speak calmly. 

"Oh yes, sir! Yes!" cried Tit- 
mouse mournfully ; " and if you'll only 
be so kind as to let me serve you as 
I used. You know it was no fault of 
mine, sir. They would tell me it was 
so ! " 

Tis impossible to conceive a more 
disgusting expression than the repul- 
sive features of Tag-rag wore at that 
moment, while he gazed in ominous 
and agitated silence at Titmouse. His 
lips quivered, and he seemed incapable 
of speaking. 

" Oh, ma, I do feel so ill ! " faintly 
exclaimed Miss Tag-rag, turning deadly 
pale. Titmouse was on the verge of 
dropping on his knees and confessing 
the trick, greatly agitated at the effect 
produced on Miss Tag-rag ; when Tag- 
rag's heavy hand was suddenly placed 
on his shoulder, and he whispered in a 
fierce undertone — " You're an impostor. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



121 



sir ! " which arrested Titmouse, and 
made something like a man of him. 
Ho was a fearful fool, but he did not 
want for mere pluck ; and now it was 
roused. Mrs. Tag-rag exclaimed, "Oh, 
you shocking scamp ! " as she passed 
Titmouse, and led her daughter out of 
the room. 

' ' Then an impostor, sir, a'n't fit 
company for you, of course, sir ! " said 
Titmouse, rising, and trembling with 
minghd apprehension and anger. 

' ' Pay me my five-pound note ! " 
almost shouted Tag-rag, furiously 
tightening the grasp by which he held 
Titmouse's collar. 

"Well, sir, and I will, if you'll only 
take your hand off ! Hollo, sir — What 
the de — Leave go, sir! Hands off! 
Are you going to murder me ? I'll pay 
you, and done with you, sir," stam- 
mered Titmouse : — when a faint scream 
was heard, plainly i'roin Miss Tag-rag, 
overhead, and in hysterics. Then the 
seething caldron boiled over. " You 
infernal scoundrel ! " said Tag-rag, 
almost choked with fury ; and suddenly 
seizing Titmouse by the collar, scarce 
giving him time, in passing, to get 
hold of his hat and stick, he urged him 
along through the passage, down the 
gravel walk, threw open the gate, 
thrust him furiously through it, and 
sent after him such a blast of execra- 
tion, as was enough to drive him a 
hundred yards down the road. Tit- 
mouse did not fully recover his breath 
or his senses for a long while after- 
wards. When he did, the firSjfc thing 
he felt was an inclination to fall down 
on his knees on the open road, and 
worship the sagacious and admirable 
Gammox, who had so exactly pre- 
dicted what had come to pass ! 

And now, Mr. Titmouse, for some 
little time I have done with you. 
Away ! — give room to your betters. 
But don't think that I have yet "rifled 
all your sweetness," or am yet about 
to "fling you like a noisome weed 
away." 



CHAPTER VII. 

While the lofty door of a house in 
Grosvenor Street might be imagined 
yet quivering under the shock of a 
previously announced dinner-arrival, 
one of the servants who were stand- 
ing behind a carriage which approached 
from the direction of Piccadilly slipped 
off, and in a twinkling, with a thun- 
thun-thunder-under-under, thunder- 
runder-runder, thun-thun-thun ! and 
a shrill thrilling whir-r-r of the bell, 
announced the arrival of the Duke of 

, the last guest. It was a large 

and plain carriage, but perfectly well 
known ; and before the door of the 
house at which it had drawn up had 
been opened, displaying some four or 
five servants standing in the hall, in 
simple but elegant liveries, half-a- 
dozen passengers had stopped to see 
get out of the carriage an elderly, 
middle-sized man, with a somewhat 
spare figure, dressed in plain , black 
clothes, with iron-grey hair, and a 
countenance which, once seen, was 
not to be forgotten. That was a great 
man ; one, the like of whom many 
previous centuries had not seen ; 
whose name shot terror into the hearts 
of all the enemies of old England all 
over the world, and fond pride and 
admiration into the hearts of his 
fellow-countrymen. 

"A quarter to eleven ! " he said, in 
a quiet tone, to the servant who was 
holding open the carriage-door — while 
the bystanders took off their hats ; a 
courtesy which he acknowledged, as 
he slowly stepped across the pave- 
ment, by touching his hat . in a 
mechanical sort of way with his fore- 
finger. The house-door then closed 
upon him ; the handful of onlookers 
passed away ; off rolled the empty 
carriage, and all without was quiet as 
before. The house was that of Mr. 
Aubrey, one of the members for the 
borough of Yatton, in Yorkshire — 
a man of rapidly rising importance in 
Parliament. Surely his was a pleas- 
ant position — that of an independent 
country gentleman, a member of one 
of the most ancient noble families in 



122 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



England, with a clear unincumbered 
rent-roll of ten thousand a-year, and 
already, in only his thirty-fourth year, 
the spokesman of his class, and 
promising to become one of the ablest 
debaters in the House ! Parliament 
having been assembled, in consequence 
of a particular emergency, at a much 
earlier period than usual, the House of 
Commons, in which Mr. Aubrey had 
the evening before delivered a well- 
timed and powerful speech, had ad- 
journed for the Christmas recess, the 
House of Lords being about to follow 
its example that evening : an import- 
ant division, however, being first ex- 
pected to take place at a late hour. 
Mr. Aubrey was warmly complimented 
on his success by several of the select 
and brilliant circle then assembled ; 
and who were all in high spirits — on 
account of a considerable triumph just 
obtained by their party, and to which 
Mr. Aubrey was assured, by even the 
Duke of — — , his exertions had cer- 
tainly -not a little contributed. While 
his Grace was energetically intimating 
to Mr. Aubrey his opinion to this 
effect, there were two lovely women 
listening to him with intense eagerness 
— they were the wife and sister of 
Mr. Aubrey. The former was an 
elegant and interesting woman — with 
raven hair, and a complexion of 
dazzling fairness — of nearly eight-and- 
tweuty ; the latter was a really beau- 
tiful girl, somewhere between twenty 
and twenty-one. Both were dressed 
with the utmost simplicity and ele- 
gance. Mrs. Aubrey, most doatingly 
fond of her husband, and a blooming 
young mother of two as charming 
children as were to be met with in a 
day's walk all over both the parks, 
was, in character and manners, all 
pliancy and gentleness ; while about 
Miss Aubrey there was a dash of 
spirit that gave an infinite zest to her 
beauty. Her blue eyes beamed with 
the richest expression of feeling — in 
short, Catharine Aubrey was, both in 
face and figure, a downright English 
beauty ; and she knew — truth must 
be told— that such she appeared to the 
Great Duke, whose cold aquiline eye 
she often felt to be settled upon her 



with satisfaction. The fact was, that he 
had penetrated at a first glance beneath 
the mere surface of an arch, sweet, 
and winning manner, and detected a 
certain strength of character in Miss 
Aubrey which gave him more than 
usual interest in her, and spread over 
his iron-cast features a pleasant ex- 
pression, relaxing their sternness. It 
might indeed be said, that before her, 
in his person, 

" Grim-visaged war had smooth'd his 
wrinkled front." 

'Twas a subject for a painter, that 
delicate and blooming girl, her auburn 
hair hanging in careless grace on each 
side of her white forehead, while her 
eyes, 

" That might have soothed a tiger's rage, 
Or thaw'd the cold heart of a conqueror," 

were fixed with absorbed interest on 
the stern and rigid countenance which 
she reflected had been, as it were, a 
thousand times darkened with the 
smoke of the grisly battle-field. But 
I must not forget that there are others 
in the room ; and amongst them, stand- 
ing at a little distance, is Lord De la 
Zoueh, one of Mr. Aubrey's neighbours 
in Yorkshire. Apparently he is listen- 
ing to a brother peer talking to him 
very earnestly about the expected 
division ; but Lord De la Zouch's eye 
is fixed on you, lovely Kate — and how 
little can you imagine what is pass- 
ing through his mind ? It has just 
occurred to him that his sudden ar- 
rangement for young Delamere— his 
only son and heir, come up the day 
before from Oxford — to call for him 
about half-past ten, and take his 
place in Mrs. Aubrey's drawing-room, 
while he, Lord De la Zouch, goes down 
to the House — may be attended with 
certain consequences. He is specu- 
lating on the effect of your beauty 
bursting suddenly on his son — who 
has not seen you for nearly two years ; 
all this gives him anxiety — but not 
painful anxiety — for, dear Kate, he 
knows that your forehead would wear 
the ancient coronet of the De la 
Zouches with grace and dignity. But 
Delamere is as yet too young — and if 
he gets the image of Catharine Aubrey 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



123 



into his head, it will, fears his father, 
instantly cast into the shade and dis- 
place all the stern visages of those old 
poets, orators, historians, philosophers, 
and statesmen, who ought, in Lord De 
la Zouch and his son's tutor's judg- 
ment, to occupy exclusively the head 
of the aforesaid Delamere for some 
five years to come. That youngster — 
happy fellow ! — frank, high-spirited, 
and enthusiastic — and handsome to 
boot — was heir to an ancient title 
and great estates ; all that his father 
had considered in looking out for an 
alliance was — youth, health, beauty, 
blood — here they all were ; — and for- 
tune too — bah ! what did it signify to 
his son — but at any rate, 'twas not 
to be thought of for some years. 

" Suppose, " said he aloud, though 
in a musing manner, ' ' one were to say 
— twenty-four ' ' 

" Twenty -four ! " echoed his com- 
panion with amazement ; "my dear 
De la Zouch, what the deuce do you 
mean ? Eighty - four at the very 
lowest ! " 

"Eh? what? oh — yes, of course — 
I should say ninety — I mean — hem ! 
— they will muster about twenty-four 
only." 

"Ah — I beg your pardon ! — there 
you're right, I dare say." — Here the 
announcement of dinner put an end 
to the colloquy of the two statesmen. 
Lord De la Zouch led down Miss 
Aubrey with an air of the most deli- 
cate and cordial courtesy ; and felt 
almost disposed, in the heat of the 
moment, to tell her that he had 
arranged all in his own mind — that if 
she willed it, she had his hearty con- 
sent to become the future Lady De la 
Zouch. He was himself the eleventh 
who had come to the title in direct 
descent from father to son ; 'twas a 
point he was not a little nervous and 
anxious about — he detested collateral 
succession — and he made himself 
infinitely agreeable to Miss Aubrey as 
he sat beside her at dinner ! The 

Duke of sat on the right hand 

side of Mrs. Aubrey, seemingly in 
high spirits, and she appeared proud 
enough of her supporter. It was a 
delightful dinner-party, elegant with- 



out ostentation, and select without 
pretence of exclusiveness. All were 
cheerful and animated, not merely on 
account of the over-night's parlia- 
mentary victory, which I have already 
alluded to, but also in contemplation 
of the coming Christmas ; how, and 
where, and with whom each was to 
spend that " righte nierrie season," 
being the chief topic of conversation. 
As there was nothing peculiar in the 
dinner, and as I have no turn for 
describing such matters in detail — the ■ 
clatter of plate, the jingling of silver, 
the sparkling of wines, and so forth — 
I shall request the reader to imagine 
himself led by me quietly out of the 
dining-room into the library — thus 
escaping from all the bustle and hub- 
bub attendant upon such an enter- 
tainment as is going on in the front of 
the house. We shall be alone in the 
library — here it is ; we enter it, and 
shut the door. "Pis a spacious room, 
all the sides covered with books, of 
which Mr. Aubrey is a great col- 
lector — and the clear red fire (which 
we must presently replenish, or it will 
go out) is shedding a subdued ruddy 
light on all the objects in the room, 
very favourable for our purpose. The 
ample table is covered with books and 
papers ; and there is an antique-look- 
ing arm-chair drawn opposite to the 
fire-, in which Mr. Aubrey has been 
indulging in a long reverie till the 
moment of quitting it to go and dress 
for dinner. This chair I shall sit in 
myself; you may draw out from the 
recess for yourself, one of two little 
sloping easy-chairs, which have been 
placed there by Mrs. and Miss Aubrey 
for their own sole use, considering 
that they are excellent judges of the 
period at which Mr. Aubrey has been 
long enough alone, and at which they 
should come in and gossip with him. 
We may as well draw the dusky green 
curtains across the window, through 
which the moon shines at present 
rather too brightly. — So, now, after 
coaxing up the fire, I will proceed to 
tell you a little bit of pleasant family 
history. 

The Aubreys are a Yorkshire family 
— the younger branch of the ancient 



124 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK. 



and noble family of the Dreddlingtons. 
Their residence, Yatton, is in the 
north-eastern part of the county, not 
above fifteen or twenty miles from the 
sea. The hall is one of those old 
structures, the sight of which throws 
you back at least a couple of centuries 
in our English history. It stands in 
a park, crowded with trees, many of 
them of great age and size, and under 
which some two hundred head of deer 
perform their capricious and graceful 
• gambols. In approaching from Lon- 
don, you strike off the great north 
road into a broad by-way ; after going 
down which for about a mile, you 
come to a straggling little village 
called Yatton, at the further extremity 
of which stands a little aged grey 
church, with a tall thin spire ; an im- 
mense yew-tree, with a kind of friendly 
gloom, overshadowing, in the little 
churchyard, nearly half the graves. 
Rather in the rear of the church is the 
vicarage-house, snug and sheltered by 
a line of fir-trees. After walking on 
about eighty yards, you come to the 
high park-gates, and see a lodge just 
within, on the left-hand side, sheltered 
by an elm-tree. You then wind your 
way for about two-thirds of a mile 
along a gravel walk, amongst the 
thickening trees, till you come to a 
ponderous old crumbling-looking red 
brick gateway of the time of Henry 
VII., with one or two deeply set stone 
windows in the turrets, and moulder- 
ing stone-capped battlements peeping 
through high-climbing ivy. There is 
an old escutcheon immediately over 
the point of the arch ; and as you pass 
underneath, if you look up you can see 
the groove of the old portcullis still 
remaining. Having passed under this 
castellated remnant, you enter a kind 
of court, formed by a high wall com- 
pletely covered with ivy, running 
along in a line from the right-hand 
turret of the gateway till it joins the 
house. Along its course are a number 
of yew-trees. In the centre of the 
open space is a quaintly disposed 
grass-plat, dotted about with, stunted 
box, and in the centre of that stands a 
weather-beaten stone sundial. The 
house itself is a large irregular pile of 



dull red brickwork, with great stacks 
of chimneys in the rear ; the body of 
the building has evidently been erected 
at different times. Some part is evi- 
dently in the style of Queen Eliza- 
beth's reign, another in that of Queen 
Anne : and it is plain that on the site 
of the present structure has formerly 
stood a castle. There are, indeed, 
traces of the old moat still visible 
round the rear of the house. One of 
the ancient towers, with small deep 
stone windows, still remains, giving its 
venerable support to the right-hand 
extremity of the building, as you 
stand with your face to the door. The 
long frontage of the house consists of 
two huge masses of dusky-red brick- 
work, (you can hardly call them 
wings,) connected together by a lower 
building in the centre, which contains 
the hall. There are three or four rows 
of long thin deep windows, with 
heavy-looking wooden sashes. The 
high-pitched roof is of slate, and has 
deep projecting eaves, forming, in fact, 
a bold wooden cornice running along 
the whole length of the building, 
which is some two or three stories 
high. At the left extremity stands a 
clump of ancient cedars of Lebanon, 
feathering in evergreen beauty down to 
the ground. The hall is Large and 
lofty ; the floor is of polished oak, 
almost the whole of which is covered 
with thick matting ; it is wainscoted 
all round with black oak ; some seven 
or eight full-length pictures, evidently 
of considerable antiquity, being let 
into the panels. Qaaint figures these 
are to be sure ; and if they resembled 
the ancestors of the Aubrey family, 
those ancestors must have been singular 
and startling persons ! The faces are 
quite white and staring — all as if in 
wonder ; and they have such long thin 
legs ! ending in sharp-pointed shoes. 
On each side of the ample fireplace 
stands a figure in full armour ; and 
there are also ranged along the wall 
old helmets, cuirasses, swords, lances, 
battle-axes, and cross-bows, the very 
idea of wearing, wielding, and handling 
which makes your arms ache, while 
you exclaim, "they must have been 
giants in those days ! " On one side 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



125 



of this hall, a door opens into the 
dining-room, beyond which is the 
library ; on the other side a door leads 
you into a noble room, now called the 
drawing-room, where stands a very 
fine organ. Out of both the dining- 
room and drawing-room yon pass up a 
staircase contained in an old square 
tower ; two sides of each of them, 
opening on the old quadrangle, lead 
into a gallery running all round it, 
and into which all the bed-rooms open. 
— But I need not go into further 
detail. Altogether it is truly a fine 
old mansion. Its only constant oc- 
cupant is Mrs. Aubrey, the mother of 
Mr. Aubrey, in whose library we are 
now seated. She is a widow, having 
survived her husband, who twice was 
one of the county members, about 
fifteen years. Mr. Aubrey is her first- 
born child, Miss Aubrey her last ; four 
intervening children she has followed 
to the grave — the grief and suffering 
consequent upon which have sadly 
shaken her constitution, and made 
her, both in actual health and in 
appearance, at least ten years older 
than she really is — for she has, in 
point of fact, not long since entered 
her sixtieth year. What a blessed life 
she leads at Yatton ! Her serene and 
cheerful temper makes every one happy 
about her ; and her charity is un- 
bounded, but dispensed with a most 
just discrimination. One way or 
another, almost a fourth of the vil- 
lage are direct pensioners upon her 
bounty. You have only to mention 
the name of Madam Aubrey, the lady 
of Y 7 atton, to witness involuntary 
homage paid to her virtues. Her word 
is law ; and well indeed it may be. 
While Mr. Aubrey, her husband, was 
to the last somewhat stern in his 
temper and reserved in his habits, 
bearing withal a spotless and lofty 
character, she was always what she 
still is, meek, gentle, accessible, charit- 
able, and pious. On his death she 
withdrew from the world, and has 
ever since resided at Yatton — never 
having quitted it for a single day. 
There are in the vicinity one or two 
stately families, with ancient name, 
sounding title, and great possessions ; 



but for ten miles round Yatton, old 
Madam Aubrey, the squire's mother, 
is the name that is enshrined in 
people's kindliest and most grateful 
feelings, and receives their readiest 
homage. Tis perhaps a very small 
matter to mention, but there is at the 
hall a great white old mare, Peggy, 
that for these twenty years, in all 
weathers, hath been the bearer of 
Madam's bounty. A thousand times 
hath she carried Jacob Jones (now a 
pensioned servant, whose hair is as 
white as Peggy's) all over the estate, 
and also oft beyond it, with comfort- 
able matters for the sick and poor. 
Most commonly there are a couple of 
stone bottles filled with cowslip, cur- 
rant, ginger, or elderberry wine, slung 
before old Jones over the well-worn 
saddle — to the carrying of which 
Peggy has got so accustomed, that she 
does not go comfortably without them. 
She has so fallen into the habits of old 
Jones, who is an inveterate gossip, 
(Madam having helped to make him 
such by the numerous enquiries she 
makes of him every morning as to 
every one in the village and on the 
estate, and which enquiries he must 
have the means of answering,) that 
slow as she jogs along, if ever she meets 
or is overtaken by any one, she stops 
of her own accord, as if to hear what 
they and her rider have to say to one 
another. She is a great favourite with 
all, and gets a mouthful of hay or 
grass at every place she stops at, either 
from the children or the old people. 
When old Peggy comes to die, she will 
be missed by all the folk round Yatton. 
Madam Aubrey, growing, I am sorry 
to say, very feeble, cannot go about as 
much as she used, and betakes herself 
oftener and oftener to the old family 
coach ; and when she is going to drive 
about the neighbourhood, you may 
almost always see it stop at the vicar- 
age for old Dr. Tatham, who generally 
accompanies her. On these occasions 
she always has a bag containing Testa- 
ments and Prayer-books, which aro 
principally distributed as rewards to 
those whom the parson can recommend 
as deserving of them. For these five- 
and-twenty years she has never missed. 



126 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



giving a copy of each to every child in 
the village and on the estate, on its 
being confirmed ; and the old lady 
looks round very keenly every Sunday, 
from her pew, to see that these Bibles 
and Prayer-books are reverently used. 
I could go on for an hour and longer, 
telling you these and other such mat- 
ters of this exemplary lady ; but we 
shall by and by have some opportuni- 
ties of seeing and knowing more of 
her personally. Her features are deli- 
cate, and have been very handsome ; 
and in manner she is very calm, and 
quiet, and dignified. She looks all 
that you could expect from what I 
have told you. The briskness of youth, 
the sedate firmness of middle-age, 
have years since given place, as you 
will see with some pain, to the feeble- 
ness produced by ill health and mental 
suffering — for she mourned after her 
children with all a fond and bereaved 
mother's love. Oh ! how she doats 
upon her surviving son and daughter ! 
And are they not worthy of such a 
mother ? 

Mr. Aubrey is in his thirty-fourth 
year ; and inherits the mental qualities 
of both his parents — the demeanour 
and person of his father. He has a 
reserve that is not cynical, but only 
diffident ; yet it gives him, at least at 
first sight, and till you have become 
familiar with his features, which are 
of a cast at once refined and aristo- 
cratic, yet full of goodness, an air of 
hauteur, which is very — very far from 
his real nature. He has in truth the 
soft heart and benignant temper of his 
mother, joined with the masculine 
firmness of character which belonged 
to his father ; which, however, is in 
danger of being seriously impaired by 
inaction. Sensitive he is, perhaps to 
a fault. There is a tone of melancholy 
or pensiveness in his composition, 
which has probably increased upon 
him from his severe studies, ever since 
his youth. He is a man of superior 
intellect, and is a capital scholar. At 
Oxford he plucked the prize of Double 
First from a host of strong competitors, 
and has since justified the expectations 
which were entertained of him. He 
has made several really valuable con- 



tributions to historic literature — in- 
deed, I think he is even now engaged 
upon some researches calculated to 
throw much light upon the obscure 
origin of several of our political insti- 
tutions. He has entered upon politics 
with uncommon — perhaps with an ex- 
cessive — ardour. I think he is likely 
to make an eminent figure in Parlia- 
ment ; for he is a man of very clear 
head, very patient, of business-like 
habits, ready in debate, and, more- 
over, has a very impressive delivery 
as a public speaker. He is generous 
and charitable as his admirable mother, 
and careless, even to a fault, of his 
pecuniary interests. He is a man of 
perfect simplicity and purity of cha- 
racter. Above all, his virtues are the 
virtues which have been sublimed by 
Christianity — as it were, the cold em- 
bers of morality warmed into religion. 
He stands happily equidistant from 
infidelity and fanaticism. He has 
looked for light from above, and has 
heard a voice saying, " This is the 
way, walk thou in it." His piety is 
the real source of that happy consistent 
dignity, and content, and firmness, 
which have earned him the respect of 
all who know him, and will bear him 
through whatever may befall him. 
He who standeth upon this rock cannot 
be moved, perhaps not even- touched, 
by the surges of worldly reverses — of 
difficulty and distress. In manner 
Mr. Aubrey is calm and gentleman- 
like ; in person he is rather above the 
middle height, and of slight make. 
From the way in which his clothes 
hang about him, a certain sharpness 
at his shoulders catching the eye of an 
observer — you would feel an anxiety 
about his health, which would be in- 
creased by hearing of the mortality in 
his family ; and your thoughts are 
perhaps pointed in the same direction, 
by a glance at his long, thin, delicate, 
white hands. His countenance has a 
serene manliness about it when in re- 
pose, and great acuteness and vivacity 
when animated. His hair, not very 
full, is black as jet, and his forehead 
ample and marked. 
_ Mr. Aubrey has been married about 
six years ; 'twas a case of love at first 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



127 



sight. Chance threw him in the way 
of Agnes St. Clair, within a few weeks 
after she had been bereaved of her only 
parent, Colonel St. Clair, a man of old 
but impoverished family, who fell in 
the Peninsular war. Had he lived 
only a month or two longer, he would 
have succeeded to a considerable estate ; 
as it was, he left his only child com- 
paratively penniless ; but Heaven had 
endowed her with personal beauty, 
with a lovely disposition, and superior 
understanding. It was not till after 
a long and anxious wooing, backed by 
the cordial entreaties of Mrs. Aubrey, 
that Miss St. Clair consented to be- 
come the wife of a man, who, to this 
hour, loves her with all the passionate 
ardour with which she had first in- 
spired him. And richly she deserves 
his love, for she does, indeed, doat 
upon him ; she studies, or rather, per- 
haps, anticipates his every wish ; in 
short, had the whole sex been searched 
for one calculated to make happy the 
morbidly fastidious Aubrey, the choice 
must surely have fallen on Miss St. 
Clair ; a woman whose temper, whose 
tastes, and whose manners were at once 
in delicate and harmonizing unison 
andi -contrast with his own. She has 
hitherto brought him but two children 
— and those very beautiful children, 
too — a boy between four and five years 
old, and a girl about two years old. 
If I were to hint my own impressions 
I should say there was a probability 

but be that as it may, 'tis an 

affair we have nothing to do with at 
present. 

Of Catharine Aubrey you had a 
momentary moonlight glimpse, at a 
former period of this history ; * and 
you have seen her this evening under 
other, and perhaps not less interesting 
circumstances. Now, where have you 
beheld a more exquisite specimen of 
budding womanhood 1 — but I feel that 
I shall get extravagant if I begin to 
dwell upon her charms. You have 
seen her — judge for yourself ; but you 
do not know her as I do ; and I shall 
tell you that her personal beauty is 
but a faint emblem of the beauties 
of her mind and character. She is 
* See ante, p. 71. 



Aubrey's youngest — now his only 
sister ; and he cherishes her with the 
tenderest and fondest regard. Neither 
he, nor his mother — with both of 
whom she spends her time alternately 
— can bear to part with her for ever so 
short an interval. She is the gay, 
romping playmate of the little Aubreys; 
the demure secretary and treasurer of 
her mother. I say demure, for there 
is a sly humour and archness in Kate's 
composition, which nickers about even 
her gravest moods. She is calculated 
equally for the seclusion of Yatton and 
the splendid atmosphere of Almack's ; 
but for the latter she seems at present 
to have little inclination. Kate is a 
girl of decided character, of strong 
sense, of high principle ; all of which 
are irradiated, not overborne, by her 
sparkling vivacity of temperament. 
She has real talent ; and her mind has 
been trained, and her tastes directed, 
with affectionate skill and vigilance by 
her gifted brother. She has many 
accomplishments ; but the only one I 
shall choose here to name is — music. 
She was one to sing and play before a 
man of the most fastidious taste and 
genius ! I defy any man to hear the 
rich tones of Miss Aubrey's voice with- 
out feeling his heart moved. Music is 
with her a matter not of art but of 
feeling — of passionate feeling ; but 
hark ! — hush ! — surely — yes, that is 
Miss Aubrey's voice — yes, that is her 
clear and brilliant touch ; the ladies 
have ascended to the drawing-room, 
and we must presently follow them. 
How time has passed ! I had a great 
deal more to tell you about the family, 
but we must take some other oppor- 
tunity. 

Yes, it is Miss Aubrey, playing on 
the new and superb piano given by her 
brother last week to Mrs. Aubrey. Do 
you see with what a careless grace and 
ease she is giving a very sweet but 
difficult composition of Haydn ? The 
lady who is standing by her to turn 
over her music, is the celebrated 
Countess of Lydsdale. She is still 
young and beautiful ; but beside Miss 
Aubrey she presents a somewhat pain- 
ful contrast ! 'Tis all the difference 
between an artificial and a natural 



128 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



flower. Poor Lady Lydsdale ! you are 
not happy with all your fashion and 
splendour ; the glitter of your diamonds 
cannot compensate for the loss of the 
sparkling spirits of a younger day ; 
they pale their ineffectual fires beside 
the fresh and joyous spirit of Catharine 

Aubrey ! You sigh 

" Now, I'll sing you quite a new 
thing," said Miss Aubrey, starting up, 
and turning over her portfolio till she 
came to a sheet of paper, on which 
were some verses in her own hand- 
writing : " The words were written by 
my brother, and I have found an old 
air that exactly suits them !" Here 
her fingers, wandering lightly and 
softly over the keys, gave forth a 
beautiful symphony in the minor ; 
after which, with a rich and soft voice, 
she sung the following : — 

PEACE. 



I. 
Where, where 
Haih gentle Peace found rest? 
Ruilds she in bower of lady fair? — 
But Lo v E — he hath possession there ; 
Not long is she the guest. 

II. 

8its 8he crown'd 

IVuoatli a pictured dome? 
Rut there Ambition keeps his ground, 
And 1'car and Knvy skulk around ; 

Thit cannot he her home ! 

III. 
Will rIio hide 
In scholar's pensive cell? 
J "lit. /' already hath his bride : 
Him Mn,A\nini,v pits licside — 
With her she may not dwell ! 

IV. 

Now and then, 

Peace, wandorin^. lays her head 
On re^al cnueh, in captive's den — 
lint nowhere finds she rest with men, 

Or only with the dead ! 

To these words, trembling on the 
beautiful lips of Miss Aubrey, was 
listening an unperceived auditor, with 
eyes devouring her every feature, and 
ears absorbing every tone of her thrill- 
ing voice. It was young Delamere, 
who had, only a moment or two before 
Miss Aubrey had commenced singing 
the above lines, alighted from his 
father's carriage, which was then 
waiting at the door to carry off Lord j 



De la Zoueh to the House of Lords. 
Arrested by the rich voice of the 
singer, he stopped short before he had 
entered the drawing-room in which 
she sat, and, stepping to a corner 
where he was hid from view, though 
he could distinctly see Miss Aubrey, 
there he remained as if rooted to the 
spot. He, too, had a soul for music ; 
and the exquisite manner in which 
Miss Aubrey gave the last verse, called 
up before his excited fancy the vivid 
image of a dove fluttering with agitated 
uncertainty over the sea of human life, 
even like the dove over the waters 
enveloping the earth in olden time. 
The mournful minor into which she 
threw the last line, excited a heart 
susceptible of the liveliest emotions to 
a degree which it required some effort 
to control, and almost a tear to relieve. 
When Miss Aubrey had quitted the 
I piano, Mrs. Aubrey followed, and gave 



j a very delicate sonata from Haydn. 
Then sat down Lady Lydsdale, and 
dashed off, in an exceedingly brilliant 
style, a scena from the new opera, 
which quickly reduced the excited 
feelings of Delamere to a pitch admit- 
ting of his presenting himself. "While 
this lowering process was going on, 
Delamere took down a little volume 
from a tasteful little cabinet of books 
immediately behind him, and which 
proved to be a volume of the Faery 
Queen. He found many pencil-marks, 
evidently made by a light female 
hand ; and -turning to the fly-leaf, 
behold, in a small elegant handwriting, 
the name of "Catharine Aubrey." 
His heart fluttered; he turned to- 
wards the piano, and beheld the grace- 
ful figure of Miss Aubrey standing 
rl i Lady L y d sdale, in an attitude 
of delighted earnestness— for her lady- 
ship was undoubtedly a very brilliant 
perfonner-totally unconscious of the 
admiring eye that was fixed upon her. 
tllJv™ 8 at her for s °™ moments, 
t and fT Sed , the apograph to his 
self ' in thp mnly Vcwed within him- 

Catharine Aubrey, * # man ' y 
marry anybody ; fc w ouL ? uM mX7W 

quitEn g land y foreve^d7ep e o r a 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



129 



broken heart in a foreign grave — and 
so forth. Thus calmly resolved — or 
rather to such a resolution did his 
thoughts tend — that sedate person, 
the Honourable Geoffry Lovel Dela- 
mere. He was a high-spirited, frank- 
hearted fellow ; and, likeagood-natured 
fool, whom bitter knowledge of the 
world has not cooled down into con- 
tempt for a very considerable portion 
of it, trusted and loved almost every 
one whom he saw. At that moment 
there was only one person in the whole 
world that he hated, viz. the miserable 
individual — if any such there were — 
who might have happened to forestall 
him in the affections of Miss Aubrey. 
The bare idea made his breath come 
and go quickly, and his cheek flush. 
Why, he felt that he had a sort of 
right to Miss Aubrey's heart ; for had 
they not been born, and had they not 
lived almost all their lives, within a 
few miles of each other ? Had they 
not often played together ? — were not 
their family estates almost contiguous ? 
- — Delamere advanced into the room, 
assuming as unconcerned an air as he 
could ; but he felt not a little tried 
when Miss Aubrey, on seeing him, 
gaily and frankly extended her hand 
to him, supposing him to have only 
the moment before entered the house. 
Poor Delamere' s hand slightly quivered 
as he felt it clasping the soft lilied 
fingers of her whom he had thus re- 
solved to make his wife : what would 
he not have given to have carried them 
to his lips ! Now, if 1 were to say 
that in the course of that evening, 
Miss Aubrey did not form a kind — of 
a sort — of a faint — notion of the possi- 
ble state of matters with young Dela- 
mere, I should not be treating the 
reader with that eminent degree of 
candour for which I think he, or she, 
is at present disposed to give me credit. 
But Kate was deeply skilled in human 
nature, and settled the matter by one 
very just reflection, viz. that Delamere 
was, in contemplation of law, a mere 
infant — i. e. he wanted yet several 
weeks of twenty-one ! and, therefore, 
that it was not likely that, &c. &c. &c. 
And, besides — pooh ! — pooh ! — 'tis a 
mere boy, at College — how ridiculous ! 



— So she gave herself no trouble about 
the affair ; exhibited no symptoms of 
caution or coyness, but conducted 
herself just as if he had not been 
present. 

He was a handsome young fellow, 
too ! 

During the evening, Mr. Delamere 
took an opportunity 'of asking Miss 
Aubrey who wrote the verses which 
he pointed to, as they lay on the 
piano. The handwriting, she said, 
was hers, but the verses were com- 
posed by her brother. He asked for 
the copy, with a slight trepidation. 
She readily gave it to him— he receiv- 
ing it with (as he supposed) a mighty 
unconcerned air. He read it over that 
night, before getting into bed, at least 
six times ; and it was the very first 
thing he looked at on getting out of 
bed in the morning. Now Miss Aubrey 
certainly wrote an elegant hand — but 
as for character, of course it had none. 
He could scarce have distinguished it 
from the handwriting of any of his 
cousins or friends ; — How should he ? 
All women are taught the same hard, 
angular, uniform hand — but good, 
bad, or indifferent, this was Kate 
Aubrey's handwriting — and her pretty 
hand had rested on the paper while 
writing — that was enough. He re- 
solved to turn the verses into every 
kind of Greek and Latin metre he 
knew of — 

In short, that here was a "course 
of true love " opened, seems pretty 
evident; but whether it will "run 
smooth " is another matter. 

Their guests having at length de- 
parted, Mr. Aubrey, his wife and 
sister, soon afterwards rose to retire. 
He went, very sleepy, straight to his 
dressing-room ; they to the nursery — 
(a constant and laudable custom with 
them) — to see how the children were 
going on, as far as they could learn 
from their drowsy attendants. Little 
Aubrey would have reminded you of 
one of tlie exquisite sketches of chil- 
dren's heads by Reynolds or Lawrence, 
as he lay breathing imperceptibly, 
with his rich flowing hair spread upon 
the pillow, in which his face was 
partly hid, and his arms stretched 

K 



130 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR 



out. Mrs. Aubrey put her finger into 
one of his hands, which was half open, 
and which closed as it were instinct- 
ively upon it with a gentle pressure. 
"Look, Kate," softly whispered Mrs. 
Aubrey. Miss Aubrey leaned forward 
and kissed his little cheek with an 
ardour that almost awoke him. After 
a glance at a tiny head partly visible 
above the clothes, in an adjoining bed, 
and looking like a rose-bud almost 
entirely hid amongst the leaves, they 
withdrew. 

"The little loves ! — how one's heart 
thrills with looking at them ! " said 
Miss Aubrey, as they descended. 
" Kate ! " whispered Mrs. Aubrey, 
with an arch smile, as they stood at 
their respective chamber doors, which 
adjoined. " Mr. Delamere is improved 
—is not he ? — Ah, Kate ! Kate ! — I 
understand ! " 

"Agnes, how can you?" — hastily 
answered Miss Aubrey, with cheeks 
suddenly crimsoned. " I never heard 
such nonsense." 

"Night, night, Kate! think over 
it ! " said Mrs. Aubrey, and kissing 
her beautiful sister-in-law, the next 
moment the blooming wife had entered 
her bed-room. Miss Aubrey slipped 
into her dressing-room, where Harriet, 
her maid, was sitting asleep before the 
fire. Her lovely mistress did not for 
a few minutes awake her ; but placing 
her candlestick on the toilet-table, 
stood in a musing attitude. 

"It's so perfectly ridiculous," at 
length she said aloud, and up started 
her maid. Within a quarter of an 
hour Miss Aubrey was in bed, but by 
no means asleep. 

The next morning, about eleven 
o'clock, Mr. Aubrey was seated in the 
library, in momentary expectation of 
his letters ; and a few moments before 
the postman's rat-tat was heard, Mrs. 
and Miss Aubrey made their appear- 
ance, as was their wont, in expecta- 
tion of anything that might have been 
upon the cover, in addition to the 
address — 
"Charles Aubrey, Esq., M.P.," 

&c. &c. &c, 
the words, letters, or figures, "Mrs. 
Aubrey,/' or "Miss Aubrey," in the 



corner. In addition to this, 'twas not 
an unpleasant thing to skim over the 
contents of his letters ! as one by one 
he opened them, and laid them aside ; 
for both these fair creatures were 
daughters of Eve, and inherited a 
little of her curiosity. Mr. Aubrey 
was always somewhat nervous and 
fidgety on such occasions, and wished 
them gone ; but they only laughed at 
him, so he was fain to put up with 
them. On this morning there were 
more than Mr. Aubrey's usual number 
of letters ; and in casting her eye over 
them, Mrs. Aubrey suddenly took up 
one that challenged attention ; it bore 
a black seal, had a deep black border- 
ing, and had the frank of Lord Alk- 
mond, at whose house in Shropshire 
they had for months been engaged to 
spend the ensuing Christmas, and were 
intending to set off on their visit the 
very next day. The ominous missive 
was soon torn open ; it was from Lord 
Alkmond himself, who in a few hur- 
ried lines announced the sudden death 
of his brother ; so that there was an 
end of their visit to the Priory. 

"Well!" exclaimed Mr. Aubrey 
calmly, rising after a pause, and 
standing with his back to the fire, in 
a musing posture. 

" Has he left any family, Charles ? " 
enquired Mrs. Aubrey with a sigh, her 
eyes still fixed on the letter. 

"I — I really don't know — poor 
fellow ! We lose a vote for Shelling- 
ton— we shall, to a certainty," he 
added, with an air of chagrin visibly 
stealing over his features. 

"How politics harden the heart, 
Charles ! Just at this moment to 
be " quoth Mrs. Aubrey. 

"It is too bad, Agnes, I own — but 
you see," said Mr. Aubrey affection- 
ately; but added suddenly, "stay, I 
don't know either, for there's the Gras- 
singham interest come into the field 
since the last " 

"Charles, I do really almost think," 
exclaimed Mrs. Aubrey with sudden 
emotion, stepping to his side, and 
throwing her arms round him affec- 
tionately, "that if /were to die, I 
should be forgotten in a fortnight, if 
the House were sitting " 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



131 



"How can you say such things, my 
love ? " enquired Aubrey, kissing her 
forehead. 

" When Agnes was born, you know," 
she murmured inarticulately. Her hus- 
band folded her tenderly in his arms 
in silence. On the occasion she alluded 
to, he had nearly lost her ; and they 
both had reason to expect that another 
similar season of peril was not very 
distant. 

" Now, Charles, you emit escape," 
said Miss Aubrey, presently, assum- 
ing a cheerful tone; "now for dear 
old Yatton ! " 

"Yes, Yatton! Positively you 
must ! " added Mrs. Aubrey, smiling 
through her tears. 

"What! Go to Yatton?" said 
Mr. Aubrey, shaking his head and 
smiling. " Nonsense ! Why we must 
set off to-morrow : they've had no 
warning ! " 

" What warning does mamma re- 
quire, Charles ? " enquired his sister 
eagerly. "Isn't the dear old place 
always in apple-pie order ? " 

" How you love the • dear old place,' 
Kate ! " exclaimed Aubrey, in such an 
affectionate tone as brought his sister 
in an instant to his side, to urge on 
her suit ; and there stood the lord of 
Yatton embraced by these two beauti- 
ful women, his own heart {inter nos) 
seconding every word they uttered. 

"How my mother would stare!" 
said he at length irresolutely, looking 
from one to the other, and smiling at 
their eagerness. 

' ' What a bustle everything will be 
in ! " exclaimed Kate. " I fancy I'm 
there already ! The great blazing fires 
— the holly and mistletoe. We must 
all go, Charles — children and all ! " 

"Why, really, I hardly know " 

"Oh! I've settled it all," quoth 
Kate, seeing that she had gained her 
point, and resolved to press her ad- 
van face, "and what's more, we've no 
time to lost? ; this is Tuesday — Christ- 
mas-day is .Saturday — we must of 
course stop a night on the way ; but 
hadn't we better have Griffiths in, 
to arrange all ? " Aubrey rang the 
bell. 

"Request Mr. Griffiths to come to 



me," said he to the servant who 
answered the summons. 

Within a very few minutes that re- 
spectable functionary had made his 
appearance and received his instruc- 
tions. The march to Shropshire was 
countermanded — and hey ! for Yatton ! 
— for which they were to start the next 
day about noon. Mr. Griffiths' first 
step was to pack off Sam, Mr. Aubrey's 
groom, by the Tally-ho, the first coach 
to York, starting at two o'clock that 
very day, with letters announcing the 
immediate arrival of the family. These 
orders were received by Sam, (who had 
been born and bred at Yatton,) while 
he was bestowing, with vehement sibil- 
lation, his customary civilities on a 
favourite mare of his master's. Down 
dropped his currycomb ; he jumped 
into the air ; snapped his fingers ; 
then he threw his arms round Jenny, 
and tickled her under the chin. ' ' Dang 
it," said he, as he threw her another 
feed of oats, "I wish thee were going 
wi' me— dang'd if I don't ! " Then he 
hastily made himself ' a hit tidy ; ' 
presented himself very respectfully 
before Mr. Griffiths, to receive the 
wherewithal to pay his fare ; and 
having obtained it, off he scampered 
to the Bull and Mouth, as if it had 
been a neck-and-neck race between 
him and all London, which should get 
down to Yorkshire first. A little after 
one o'clock, his packet of letters was 
delivered to him ; and within another 
hour Sam was to be seen (quite com- 
fortable, with a draught of spiced ale 
given him by the cook, to make his 
hasty dinner "sit well") on the top 
of the Tally-ho, rattling rapidly along 
the great north road. 

" Come, Kate," said Mrs. Aubrey, 
entering Miss Aubrey's room, where 
she was giving directions to her maid, 
" I've ordered the carriage to be at the 
door as soon as it can be got ready ; we 
must go off to Courts' — see ! " She 
held in her hand two slips of paper, 
one of which she gave Miss Aubrey. 
'Twas a check for one hundred pounds 
— her brother's usual Christmas-box — 
" and then we've a quantity of little 
matters to buy this afternoon. Come, 
Kate, quick ! quick ' " 

K. 2 



132 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



Now, poor Kate had spent nearly all 
her money, which circumstance, con- 
nected with another that I shall shortly 
mention, had given her not a little 
concern. At her earnest request, her 
brother had, about a year before, built 
her a nice little school, capable of con- 
taining some eighteen or twenty girls, 
on a slip of land between the vicarage 
and the park wall of Yatton, and old 
Mrs. Aubrey and her daughter found a 
resident schoolmistress, and, in fact, 
supported the little establishment, 
which, at the time I am speaking of, 
contained some seventeen or eighteen 
of the villagers' younger children. 
Miss Aubrey took a prodigious interest 
in this little school, scarce a day passing 
without her visiting it when she was at 
Yatton ; and what Kate wanted, was 
the luxury of giving a Christmas present 
to both mistress and scholars. That, 
however, she would have had some 
difficulty in effecting but for this her 
brother's timely present, which had 
quite set her heart at ease. On their 
return, the carriage was crowded with 
the things they had been purchasing — 
articles of clothing for the feebler old 
villagers ; work-boxes, samplers, books, 
testaments, prayer-books, &c. &c. &c, 
for the school ; the sight of which, I 
can assure the reader, made Kate far 
happier than if they had been the 
costliest articles of dress and jewellery. 

The next day was a very pleasant one 
for travelling — "frosty, but kindly." 
About one o'clock there might have 
been seen standing before the door the 
roomy yellow family carriage, with 
four post-horses, all in travelling trim. 
In the rumble sat Mr. Aubrey's valet 
and Mrs. Aubrey's maid — Miss Au- 
brey's, and one of the nursery-maids, 
going down by the coach which had 
carried Sam — the Tally-ho. The 
coach-box was piled up with that sort 
of luggage which, by its lightness and 
bulk, denotes lady-travelling : inside 
were Mrs. and Miss Aubrey, muffled in 
furs, shawls, and pelisses ; a nursery- 
maid, with little Master and Miss 
Aubrey, equally well protected from 
the cold ; and the vacant seat awaited 
Mr. Aubrey, who at length made his 
appearance, having been engaged till 



the latest moment in giving and re- 
peating specific instructions concerning 
the forwarding of his letters and papers. 
As soon as he had taken his place, and 
all had been snugly disposed within, 
the steps were doubled up, the door 
was closed, the windows were drawn 
up — crack ! crack ! went the whips of 
the two postilions, and away rolled 
the carriage over the dry hard pave- 
ment. 

" Now that's what I calls doing it 
uncommon comfortable," said a pot- 
boy to one of the footmen at an ad- 
joining house, where he was delivering 
the porter for the servants' dinner ; 
"how werry nice and snug them two 
looks in the rumble behind ! " 

" We goes to-morrow," carelessly 
replied the gentleman he was address- 
ing. 

" It's a fine thing to be gentlefolk," 
said the boy, taking up his pot-board. 

"Ya-as," drawled the footman, 
twitching up his shirt collar. 

On drawing up to the posting-house, 
which was within about forty miles of 
Yatton, the Aubreys found a carriage 
and four just ready to start, after 
changing horses ; and whose should 
this prove to be but Lord De la Zouch's, 
containing himself, his lady, and his 
son, Mr. Delamere. His lordship and 
his son both alighted on accidentally 
discovering who had overtaken them ; 
and coming up to Mr. Aubrey's carriage 
windows, exchanged surprised and 
cordial greetings with its occupants — 
whom Lord De la Zouch imagined to 
have been by this time on their way to 
Shropshire. Mr. Delamere manifested 
a surprising eagerness about the welfare 
of little Agnes Aubrey, who happened 
to be lying fast asleep in Miss Aubrey's 
lap ; but the evening was fast advanc- 
ing, and both the travelling parties had 
yet before them a considerable portion 
of their journey. After a hasty promise 
on the part of each to dine with the 
other before returning to town for the 
season — a promise which Mr. Delamere 
at all events resolved should not be 
lost sight of — they parted. 'Twas 
eight o'clock before Mr. Aubrey's eye, 
which had been for some time on the 
look-out, caught sight of Yatton 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



133 



woods ; and when it did, his heart 
yearned towards them. The moon 
shone brightly and cheerily, and it 
was pleasant to listen to the quicken- 
ing clattering tramp of the horses upon 
the dry, hard highway, as the travellers 
rapidly neared a spot endeared to them 
by every early and tender association. 
When they had got within half a mile 
of the village, they overtook the worthy 
vicar, who had mounted his nag, and 
been out on the road to meet the ex- 
pected comers, for an hour before. 
Aubrey roused Mrs. Aubrey from her 
nap, to point out Dr. Tatham, who by 
that time was cantering along beside 
the open window. 'Twas refreshing to 
see the cheerful old man — who looked 
as ruddy and hearty as ever. 

"God bless you all! All well?" 
he exclaimed, riding close to the 
window. 

"Yes; but how is my mother?" 
enquired Aubrey. 

" High spirits — high spirits ! Was 
with her this afternoon ! Have not 
seen her better for years ! So sur- 
prised ! Ah ! here's an old friend — 
Hector ! " 

"Bow-wow - wow - wow ! Bow! — 
Bow-wow ! " 

" Papa ! papa ! " exclaimed the voice 
of little Charles, struggling to get on 
his father's lap to look out of the win- 
dow, "that is Hector ! I know it is ! 
He is come to see me ! 1 want to look 
at him ! " 

Mr. Aubrey lifted him up as he 
desired, and a huge black-and-white 
Newfoundland dog almost leaped up 
to the window at sight of him clapping 
his little hands, as if in eager recogni- 
tion, and then scampered and bounded 
about in all directions, barking most 
boisterously, to the infinite delight of 
little Aubrey. This messenger had 
been sent on by Sam, the groom, who 
had been on the look-out for the 
travellers for some time ; and the 
moment he caught sight of the car- 
riage, pelted down the village, through 
the park, at top speed, up to the Hall, 
there to communicate the good news 
of their safe arrival. The travellers 
thought that the village had never 
looked so pretty and picturesque before. 



The sound of the carriage dashing 
through it, called all the cottagers to 
their doors, where they stood bowing 
and curtseying. It soon reached the 
park-gates, which were thrown wide 
open in readiness for its entrance. As 
they passed the church, they heard its 
little bells ringing a merry peal to 
welcome their arrival ; its faint chimes 
went to their very hearts. 

" My darling Agnes, here we are 
again in the old place," said Mr. Aubrey 
in a joyous tone, affectionately kissing 
Mrs. Aubrey and his sister, as, after 
having wound their way up the park 
at almost a gallop, they heard them- 
selves rattling over the stone pavement 
immediately under the old turreted 
gateway. On approaching it, they 
saw lights glancing about in the Hall 
windows ; and before they had drawn 
up, the great door was thrown open, 
and several servants (one or two of 
them greyheaded) made their appear- 
ance, eager to release the travellers 
from their long confinement. A great 
wood fire was crackling and blazing in 
the ample fireplace in the hall opposite 
the door, casting a right pleasant and 
cheerful light over the various antique 
objects ranged around the walls ; but 
the object on which Mr. Aubrey's eye 
instantly settled was the venerable 
figure of his mother, standing beside 
the fireplace with one or two female 
attendants. The moment that the 
carriage door was opened, he stepped 
quickly out, (nearly tumbling, by the 
way, over Hector, who appeared to 
think that the carriage-door had been 
opened only to enable him to jump 
into it, which he prepared to do.) 

" God bless you, Madam ! " said he 
tenderly, as he received his mother's 
fervent but silent greeting, and imag- 
ined that the arms folded round him 
were somewhat feebler than when he 
had last felt them embracing him. 
With similar affection was the good 
old lady received by her daughter and 
daughter-in-law. 

' ' Where is my pony, grandmam- 
ma ? " quoth little Aubrey, running up 
to her, (he had been kept quiet for the 
last eighty miles or so, by the mention 
of the aforesaid pony, which had been 



134 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



sent to the Hall as a present to him 
some weeks before.) "Where is it? 
I want to see my little pony directly ! 
Mamma says you have got a little pony 
for me with a long tail ; I must see it 
before I go to bed ; I must, indeed — 
is it in the stable ? " 

"You shall see it in the morning, 
my darling — the very first thing, " said 
Mrs. Aubrey, fervently kissing her 
beautiful little grandson, while tears 
of joy and pride ran down her cheek. 
She then pressed her lips on the delicate 
but flushed cheek of little Agnes, who 
was fast asleep ; and as soon as they 
had been conducted towards their 
nursery, Mrs. Aubrey, followed by her 
children, led the way to the dining- 
room — the dear delightful old dining- 
room, in which all of them had passed 
so many happy hours of their lives. 
It was large and lofty ; and two an- 
tique branch silver candlesticks, stand- 
ing on sconces upon each side of a 
strange old straggling carved mantel- 
piece of inlaid oak, aided by the blaze 
given out by two immense logs of wood 
burning beneath, thoroughly illumin- 
ated it. The walls were oak-paneled, 
containing many pictures, several of 
them of great value ; and the floor also 
was of polished oak, over the centre of 
which, however, was spread a thick 
richly-coloured turkey carpet. Oppo- 
site the door was a large mullioned 
bay-window, then, however, concealed 
behind an ample flowing crimson cur- 
tain. On the further •side of the fire- 
place stood a high-backed and roomy 
arm-chair, almost covered with Kate's 
embroidery, and in which Mrs. Aubrey 
had evidently, as usual, been sitting 
till the moment of their arrival — for 
on a small ebony table beside it lay her 
spectacles, and an open volume. Nearly 
fronting the fireplace was a recess, in 
which stood an exquisitely carved black 
ebony cabinet, inlaid with white and 
red ivory. This, Miss Aubrey claimed 
as her own, and had appropriated it to 
her own purposes ever since she was 
seven years old. "You dear old 
thing ! " said she, throwing open the 
folding-doors — "Everything just as I 
left it ! Really, dear mamma, I could 
skip about the room for joy ! I wish 



Charles would never leave Yatton 
again ! " 

"It's rather lonely, my love, when 
none of you are with me," said Mrs. 
Aubrey. "I feel getting older——" 

" Dearest mamma, "interrupted Miss 
Aubrey quickly, " I won't leave you 
again ! I'm quite tired of town — I am 
indeed ! " 

Though fires were lit in their several 
dressing-rooms, of which they were 
more than once reminded by their 
respective attendants, they all re- 
mained seated before the fire in carriage 
costume, (except that Kate had thrown 
aside her bonnet, her half-uncurled 
tresses hanging in negligent profusion 
over her thickly-furred pelisse,) eagerly 
conversing about the little incidents of 
their journey, and the events which 
had transpired at Yatton since they 
had quitted it. At length, however, 
they retired to perform the refreshing 
duties of the dressing-room, before 
sitting down to supper. Of that com- 
fortable meal, within twenty minutes' 
time or so, they partook with hearty 
relish. What mortal, however deli- 
cate, could resist the fare set before 
them — the plump capon, the delicious 
grilled ham, the poached eggs, the 
floury potatoes, home-baked bread, 
white and brown — custards, mince- 
pies, home-brewed ale, as soft as milk, 
as clear as amber — mulled claret — and 
so forth ? The travellers had evidently 
never relished anything more, to the 
infinite delight of old Mrs. Aubrey ; 
who observing, soon afterwards, irre- 
pressible symptoms of fatigue and 
drowsiness, ordered them all off to 
bed — Kate sleeping in the same cham- 
ber in which she sat when the reader 
was permitted to catch a moonlight 
glimpse of her, as already more than 
once referred to. 

They did not make their appearance 
the next morning till after nine o'clock, 
Mrs. Aubrey having read prayers be- 
fore the assembled servants, as usual, 
nearly an hour before' — a duty her son 
always performed when at the Hall — 
but on this occasion he had overslept 
himself. He found his mother in the 
breakfast-room, where she was soon 
joined by her daughter and daughter- 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



135 



in-law, all of them being in high 
health and spirits. Just as they were 
finishing breakfast, little Aubrey burst 
into the loom in a perfect ecstasy— for 
old Jones had taken him round to the 
stables, and shown him the little pony 
which had been bought for him only a 
few months before. He had heard it 
neigh — had seen its long tail — had 
patted its neck — had seen it eat — and 
now his vehement prayer was, that 
his papa, and mamma, and Kate would 
immediately go and see it, and take 
his little sister also. 

Breakfast over, they separated. Old 
Mrs. Aubrey went to her own room to 
be attended by her housekeeper ; the 
other two ladies retired to their rooms 
— Kate principally engaged in ar- 
ranging her presents for her little 
scholars : and Mr. Aubrey repaired to 
his library — as delightful an old snug- 
gery as the most studious recluse could 
desire — where he was presently at- 
tended by his bailiff. He found that 
everything was going on as he could 
have wished. With one or two ex- 
ceptions, his rents were paid most 
punctually ; the farms and lands kept 
in capital condition. To be sure an in- 
corrigible old poacher had been giving 
his people a little trouble, as usual, 
and was committed for trial at the 
Spring Assizes ; a few trivial trespasses 
had been committed in search of fire- 
wood, and other small matters ; which, 
after having been detailed with great 
minuteness by his zealous and vigilant 
bailiff, were dispatched by Mr. Aubrey 
with a " pooh, pooh ! " — Then there 
was Gregory, who held the smallest 
form on the estate, at its southern 
extremity — he was three quarters' rent 
in arrear — but he had a sick wife and 
seven children — so he was at once for- 
given all that was due, and also what 
would become due on the ensuing 
quarter day. — "In fact," said Mr. 
Aubrey, " don't ask him for any more 
rent. I'm sure the poor fellow will 
pay when he's able." 

Some rents were to be raised ; others 
lowered ; and some half dozen of the 
poorer cottages were to be forthwith 
put into good repair, at Mr. Aubrey's 
expense. The two oxen had been sent, 



on the preceding afternoon, from the 
home farm to the butcher's, to be 
distributed on Christmas eve among 
the poorer villagers, according to orders 
brought down from town, by Sam, the 
day before. Thus was Mr. Aubrey en- 
gaged for an hour or two, till luncheon 
time, when good Dr. Tatham made 
his welcome appearance, having been 
engaged most of the morning in touch- 
ing up an old Christmas sermon. 

He had been vicar of Yatton for 
nearly thirty years, having been pre- 
sented to it by the late Mr. Aubrey, 
with whom he had been intimate at 
college. He was a delightful specimen 
of a country parson. Cheerful, unaf- 
fected, and good-natured, there was a 
dash of quaintness or roughness about 
his manners, that reminded you of the 
crust in very fine old port. He had 
been a widower, and childless, for 
fifteen years. His parish had been 
ever since his family, whom he still 
watched over with an affectionate vigil- 
ance. He was respected and beloved 
by all. Almost every man, woman, 
and child that had died in Yatton, 
during nearly thirty years, had de- 
parted with the sound of his kind and 
solemn voice in their ears. He claimed 
a sort of personal acquaintance with 
almost all the gravestones in his little 
churchyard ; and when he looked at 
them, his conscience bore him witness, 
that he had done his duty by the dust 
that slept underneath. He was at the 
bedside of a sick person almost as 
soon, and as often, as the doctor — no 
matter what sort of weather, or at 
what hour of the day or night. Me- 
thinks I see him now, bustling about 
the village, with healthy ruddy cheek, 
a clear, cheerful eye, hair white as 
snow ; with a small, stout figure, 
clothed in a suit of somewhat rusty 
black, (knee-breeches and gaiters all 
round the year,) and with a small 
shovel-hat. No one lives in the vicar- 
age with him but an elderly woman, 
his housekeeper, and her husband, 
whose chief business is to look after 
the doctor's old mare and the little 
garden ; in which I have often seen 
him and his master, with his coat off, 
digging for hours together. He rises 



136 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



at five in the winter, and four in the 
summer, being occupied till breakfast 
with his studies ; for he was an ex- 
cellent scholar, and has not forgotten, 
in the zealous discharge of his sacred 
duties, the pursuits of literature and 
philosophy, in which he gained no 
inconsiderable distinction in his youth. 
He derives a very moderate income 
from his living ; but it is even more 
than sufficient for his necessities. Ever 
since Mr. Aubrey's devotion to politics 
has carried him away from Yatton for 
a considerable portion of each year, 
Dr. Tatham has been the right-hand 
counsellor of old Mrs. Aubrey, in all 
her pious and charitable plans and 
purposes. Every new-year's day, there 
come from the Hall to the vicarage six 
dozen of fine old port wine — a present 
from Mrs. Aubrey ; but the little doctor 
(though he never tells her so) scarce 
drinks six bottles of them in a year. 
Tw > dozen of them go, within a few 
d.ys' time, to a poor brother parson in 
an adjoining parish, who, with his 
wife and three children — all in feeble 
health — can hardly keep body and sou 
together, and who, but for this gencr 
ous brother, would n t probably taste 
a glass of wine throughout the year, 
except on certain occasions when the 
very humblest may moisten their poor 
lips with wine — I mean the Sacisa- 
ment — the sublime and solemn festival 
given by One who doth not forget the 
poor and destitute, however in their 
misery they may sometimes think to 
the contrary ! — The remainder of his 
little present Dr. Tatham distributes 
in small quantities amongst such of 
his parishioners as may require it, and 
may not happen to have come under 
the immediate notice of Mrs. Aubrey. 
Dr. Tatham has known Mr. Aubrey 
ever since he was about five years old. 
'Twas the doctor that first taught him 
Greek and Latin ; and, up to his going 
to college, gave him the frequent ad- 
vantage of his learned experience.- — 
But surely I have gone into a very 
long digression, and must return. 

While Miss Aubrey, accompanied by 
her sister-in-law, and followed by a 
servant carrying a great bag, filled 
with articles brought from London the 



day before, went to the school which I 
have before mentioned, in order to 
distribute her prizes and presents, Mr. 
Aubrey and Dr. Tatham set off on a 
walk through the village. 

"I must really do something for 
that old steeple of yours, Doctor," said 
Aubrey, as arm in arm they approached 
the church ; " it looks crumbling away 
in many parts." 

"If y u'd only send a couple of 
masons to repair the porch, and make 
it weather-tight, it would satisfy me for 
some years to come," said the Doctor. 
"We.l — we'll look at it," replied 
Aubrey ; and, turning aside, they en- 
tered the lit. le churchyard. 

"How I love this old yew-tree!" 
he exclaimed, as they passed, under it ; 
"it casts a kind of tender gloom 
around that always makes me pensive, 
not to say mel.ncholy!" A sigh 
escaped him, as his eye glanced at the 
family vault, which was almost in the 
centre of the shade, where lay his 
fat'ier, three brothers, and a sister, 
and where, in the course of nature, a 
few short years would see the precious 
remains of his mother deposited. But 
the Doctor, who had hastened forward 
alone for a moment, finding the church- 
door open, called out to Mr. Aubrey, 
who soon stood within the porch. It 
certainly required a little repairing, 
which Mr. Aubrey said should be 
looked to immediately. "See — we're 
all preparing for to-morrow," said Dr. 
Tatham, leading the way into the 
little church, where the grizzle-headed 
clerk was busy decorating the pulpit, 
reading-desk, and altar-piece, with the 
cheerful emblems of the season. 

" I never see these," said the Doctor, 
taking up one of the sprigs of mistle- 
toe lying on a form beside them, "but 
I think of your own Christmas verses, 
Mr Aubrey, when you were younger 
and fresher than you now are-don't 
you recollect them i " 
"Oh— pooh!" 

^"^K 1 nm f^ them," rejoin-'' 
the Doctor ; and he began — 

w aU l,5 1 } Very ' ™ odes t mistletoe 
Wreath'd round winter's brn-m „'t 
Clinging so chastely, tenderiv- Sn ° W ' 
Hail holly, darkly, richly gr e J n " 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



137 



Whose crimson berries blush between 
. Thy prickly foliage, modestly. 
Ye winter-flowers, bloom sweet and fair, 
Though Nature's garden else be bare— 
Ye vernal glistening emblems, meet 
To twine a Christmas coronet ! " 

" That will do, Doctor," interrupted 
Aubrey smiling — "what a memory you 
have for trifles ! " 

" Peggy ! Peggy ! — you're sadly 
overdoing it," said the Doctor, calling 
out to the sexton's wife, who was busy 
at work in the squire's pew — a large 
square pew in the nave, near the pul- 
pit. " Why, do you want to hide the 
squire's family from the congregation ? 
You're quite putting a holly hedge all 
round ! " 

"Please you, sir," quoth Peggy, 
" I've got so much I don't know where 
to put it — so, in course, I put it 
here ! " 

"Then," said the Doctor, with a 
smile, looking round the church, "let 
John get up and stick some of it into 
those old hatchments ; and," looking 
up at the clerk, busy at work in the 
pulpit, " don't you put quite so much 
up there in my candlesticks ! " 

With this the parson and the squire 
took their departure. As they passed 
slowly up the village, which already 
wore a sort of holiday aspect, they 
met on all hands with a cordial and 
respectful greeting. The quiet little 
public-house turned out some four or 
five stout steady fellows — all tenants 
of Mr. Aubrey's — with their pipes in 
their hands, and who took off their 
hats, and bowed very low. Mr. Aubrey 
went up and entered into conversation 
with them for some minutes — their 
families and farms, lie found, were well 
and thriving. There was quite a little 
crowd of women about the shop of 
Nick Steele, the butcher, who, with 
an extra hand to help him, was giving 
out the second ox which had been sent 
from the Hall, to the persons whose 
names had been given in to him from 
Mrs. Aubrey. Further on, 'some were 
cleaning their little windows, others 
sweeping their floors, and sprinkling 
sand over them ; most were sticking 
holly and mistletoe in their windows, 
and over their mantelpieces. Every- 
where, in short, was to be seen that air 



of quiet preparation for the solemnly 
cheerful morrow, which fills a thought- 
ful observer with feelings of pensive 
but exquisite satisfaction. 

Mr. Aubrey returned home towards 
dusk, cheered and enlivened by his 
walk. His sudden plunge into the 
simplicity and comparative solitude of 
country life — and that country Yatton 
— had quite refreshed his feelings, and 
given a tone to his spirits. Of course 
Dr. Tatham was to dine at the Hall on 
the morrow ; if he did not, indeed, it 
would have been for the first time 
during the last five-and-twenty years. 

Christmas eve passed pleasantly and 
quietly enough at the Hall. After 
dinner the merry little ones were in- 
troduced, and their prattle and romps 
occupied an hour right joyously. As 
soon as, smothered with kisses, they 
had been dismissed to bed, old Mrs. 
Aubrey composed herself in her great 
chair to her usual after-dinner's nap ; 
while her son, his wife, and sister, 
sitting fronting the fire — a decanter or 
two, and a few wine-glasses and dessert, 
remaining on the table behind them 
— sat conversing in a subdued tone, 
now listening to the wind roaring in 
the chimney — a sound which not a 
little enhanced their sense of comfort 
— then criticising the disposition of 
the evergreens with which the room 
was plenteously decorated, and laying 
out their movements during the en- 
suing fortnight. Mrs. Aubrey and 
Kate were, with affectionate earnest- 
ness, contrasting to Aubrey the 
peaceful pleasures of a country life 
with the restless excitement and 
endless anxieties of a London political 
life, to which they saw him more and 
more addicting himself ; he all the 
while playfully partying their attacks, 
but secretly acknowledging the truth 
and force of what they said, when — 
hark ! — a novel sound from without, 
which roused the old lady from her 
nap. What do you think, denr reader, 
it was ? The voices of little girls 
singing what seemed to be a Christmas 
hymn : yes, they caught the words — 

" Hark ! the herald angels sing, 
Glory to the new-born king ; 
Peace on earth, and mercy mild " — 



138 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



"Why, surely — it must be your 
little school girls," said old Mrs. 
Aubrey, looking at her daughter, and 
listening. 

"I do believe it is ! " quoth Kate, 
her eyes suddenly filling with tears, as 
she sat eagerly inclining her ear to- 
wards the window. 

"They must be standing on the 
grass-plot just before the window," 
said Mr. Aubrey : the tiny voices were 
thrilling his very heart within him. 
His sensitive nature might be compared 
to a delicate iEolian harp, which gave 
forth, with the slightest breath of 
accident or circumstance, — 

" The still, sad music of humanity," 

In a few moments he was almost in 
tears — the sounds were so unlike the 
fierce and turbulent cries of political 
warfare to which his ears had been 
latterly accustomed ! The more the 
poor children sung, the more was he 
affected. Kate's tears fell fast, for she 
had been in an excited mood before 
this little incident occurred. " Do 
you hear, mamma," said she, "the 
voice of the poor little thing that was 
last taken into the school ? The little 
darling ! " Kate tried to smile away 
her emotion ; but 'twas in vain. Mr. 
Aubrey gently drew aside the curtain, 
and pulled up the central blind — and 
there, headed by their matron, stood 
the little singers exposed to view, some 
eighteen in number, ranged in a row 
on the grass, their small white shawls 
glistening in the moonlight. The 
oldest seemed not more than ten or 
twelve years old, while the younger 
ones could not be more than five or 
six. They seemed all -singing from 
their very hearts. Aubrey stood 
looking at them with very deep 
interest. 

As soon as they had finished their 
hymn, they were conducted into the 
housekeeper's room, according to 
orders sent for that purpose from 
Mrs. Aubrey, and each of them re- 
ceived a little present of money, 
besides a full glass of Mrs. Jackson's 
choicest raisin wine, and a currant 
bun ; Kate slipping half-a-guinea into 
the hand of their mistress, to whose 



wish to afford gratification to the 
inmates of the Hall wis entirely owing 
the little incident which had so pleased 
and surprised them. 

"A happy Christmas to you, dear 
papa and mamma ! " said little Aubrey, 
about eight o'clock the next morning, 
pushing aside the curtains, and trying 
to clamber up on the high bed where 
Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey were still asleep 
— soon, however, they were awoke by 
the welcome sound ! — The morning 
promised a beautiful day. The air, 
though cold, was clear ; and the 
branches of the trees visible from their 
windows were all covered with hoar- 
frost, which seemed to line them as if 
with ? ilver fringe. The little bells of 
Yatton church were ringing a merry 
peal ; but how different in tone and. 
strength from the clangour of the 
London church-bells ! — Christmas was 
indeed at last arrived — and cheerful 
were the greetings of those who soon 
after met at the bountiful breakfast 
table. Old Mrs. Aubrey was going to 
church with them — in fact, not even a 
domestic was to be left at home that 
could possibly be spared. By the time 
that the carriage, with the fat and 
lazy-looking grey horses, was at the 
Hall door, the tun had burst out in 
beauty from an almost cloudless sky. 
The three ladies rode alone ; Aubrey 
preferring to walk, accompanied by his 
little son, as the ground was dry and 
hard, and the distance very short. A 
troop of some twelve or fourteen 
servants, male and female, presently 
followed ; and then came Mr. Aubrey, 
leading along the heir of Yatton— a 
boy of whom he might well be proud, 
as the future possessor of his name, 
his fortune, and his honours. When 
he had reached the church, the carriage 
was returning home. Almost the whole 
congregation stood collected before the 
church door, to see the Squire's family 
enter ; and reverent were the curtsies 
and bows with which old Mrs. Aubrey 
and her lovely companions were re- 
ceived. Very soon after they had 
taken their places, Mr. Aubrey and 
his son made their appearance ; objects 
they were of the deepest interest, as 
they passed along to their pew. A few 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



139 



minutes afterwards little Dr. Tatham 
entered the church in his surplice, 
(which he almost always put on at 
home,) with a face, serious to be sure, 
hut yet overspread with an expression 
even more bland and benignant than 
usual. He knew there was not a soul 
among the little crowd around him 
that did not really love him, and that 
did not know how heartily he returned 
their love. All eyes were of course on 
the Squire's pew. Mrs. Aubrey was 
looking well — her daughter and 
daughter-in-law were thought by all 
to be by far the most beautiful women 
in the world — what must people think 
of them in London ? Mr. Aubrey 
looked, they thought, pleased and 
happy, but rather paler, and even a 
little thinner ; and as for the little 
Squire, with his bright eyes, his rosy 
cheeks, his arch smile, his curling 
auburn hair — and so like his father 
and mother — he was the pride of 
Yatton ! 

Dr. Tatham read prayers, as he 
always did, with great distinctness and 
deliberation, so that everybody in the 
church, young and old, could catch 
eveTy syllable ; and he preached, con- 
siderately enough, a very short sermon 
— pithy, homely, and affectionate. 
He reminded them that he was then 
preaching his thirty-first Christmas- 
day sermon from that pulpit ! The 
service and the sacrament over, none 
of the congregation moved from their 
places till the occupants of the Squire's 
pew had quitted it ; but as soon as 
they had got outside of the door, the 
good people poured out after them, 
and almost lined the way from the 
church door to the gate at which the 
carriage stood, receiving and answer- 
ing a hundred kind enquiries con- 
cerning themselves, their families, and 
their circumstance's. 

Mr. Aubrey stayed behind, desirous 
of taking another little ramble with 
Dr. Tatham through the village, for 
the day was indeed bright and beau- 
tiful, and the occasion inspiriting. 
There was not a villager within four 
or five miles of the Hall who did not 
sit down that day to a comfortable 
little relishing dinner, at least one 



third of them being indebted for it 
directly to the bounty of the Aubreys. 
As soon as Dr. Tatham had taken off 
his gown, he accompanied Mr. Aubrey 
in cheerful mood, in the briskest 
spirits. 'Twas delightful to fee the 
smoke come curling out of every chim- 
ney, scarce any one visible, suggesting 
to you that they were all housed, and 
preparing for or partaking of their 
roast-beef and plum-pudding ! Now 
and then the bustling wife would 
show her heated red face at the door, 
and hastily curtsey as they passed, 
then returning to dish up her little 
dinner. 

" Ah, ha ; Mr. Aubrey! — isn't such 
a day as this worth a whole year in 
town ? " exclaimed Dr. Tatham. 

"Both have their peculiar influ- 
ences, Doctor ; the pleasure of the 
contrast would be lost if " 

"Contrast! Believe me, in the lan- 
guage of Virgil " 

" Ah ! how goes on old blind Bess, 
Doctor ? " interrupted Aubrey, as they 
approached the smallest cottage in the 
village — in fact the very last. 

" She's just the same as she has 
been these last twenty years. Shall 
we look in on the old creature ? " 

" With all my heart. I hope, poor 
soul ! that she has not been overlooked 
on this festive occasion." 

" Trust Mrs. Aubrey for that ! I'll 
answer for it, we shall find old Bess 
as happy, in her way, as she can 
be." 

This was a stone-blind old woman, 
who had been bedridden for the last 
twenty years. She had certainly 
passed her hundredth year — some 
said two or three years before — and had 
lived in her present little cottage for 
nearly half a century, having grown 
out of the recollection of almost all 
the inhabitants of the village. She 
had long been a pensioner of Mrs. 
Aubrey's, by whom alone, indeed, she 
was supported. Her great age, her 
singular appearance, and a certain 
rambling way of talking that _ she 
had, earned her the reputation in the 
village of being able to say strange 
things ; and one or two of the old 
gossips knew of things coming to pass 



140 



TEX THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



according to what — poor old soul — 
she had predicted ! 

Dr. Tatham gently pushed open 
the door. The cottage consisted, in 
fact, of but one room, and that a 
very small one, and lit by only one 
little window. The floor was clean, 
and evidently just fresh sanded. On 
a wooden stool, opposite a fireplace, 
on which a small saucepan pot was 
placed, sat a girl about twelve years 
old, (a daughter of the woman who 
lived nearest,) crumbling some bread 
into a basin, with some broth in it. 
On a narrow bed against the wall, 
opposite the window, was to be seen 
the somewhat remarkable figure of the 
solitary old tenant of the cottage. 
She was sitting up, resting against 
the pillow, which was placed on end 
against the wall. She was evidently 
a very tall woman ; and her long, 
brown, wrinkled, shrivelled face, with 
prominent cheekbones and bushy white 
eyebrows, betokened the possession, in 
earlier days, of a most masculine ex- 
pression of features. Her hair, white 
as snow, was gathered back from her 
forehead, under a spreading plain 
white cap ; and her sightless eyes, wide 
open, stared forward with a startling 
and somewhat sinister expression. 
She was wrapped round in a clean 
white bedgown ; and her long thin 
arms lay straight before her on the 
outside of the bed-clothes. Her lips 
were moving, as if she were talking 
to herself. 

" She's a strange-looking object, in- 
deed ! " exclaimed Mr. Aubrey, as he 
and Dr. Tatham stood watching her 
for a few moments in silence. 

"Dame! dame! " said the Doctor 
loudly, approaching her bedside, "how 
are you to-day ? It's Christmas-day — 
I wish you a merry Christmas." 

" Ay, ay — merry, merry ! More the 
merrier ! I've seen a hundred and 
nine of them ! " 

" You seem very happy, dame." 
■ " They won't give me my broth — 
my broth," said she peevishly. 

"It's coming, granny," called out 
the shrill voice of the girl sitting 
before the fire, quickening her mo- 
tions. 



" Here's the Squire come to see you, 
dame, and he wishes you a happy 
Christmas," said Dr. Tatham. 

"What! the Squire? Alive yet? 
Ah, well-a-day ! well-a-day!" said she, 
in a feeble, mournful tone, slowly rub- 
bing together her long, skinny, wrin- 
kled hands, on the backs of which the 
veins stood out like knotted whipcord. 
She repeated the last words several 
times, in a truly doleful tone, gently 
shaking her head. 

"Granny's been very sad, sir, to- 
day, and cried two or three times," 
said the little girl, stirring about the 
hot broth. 

" Poor Squire ! doth he not look 
sad ? " enquired the old woman. 

"Why should I, dame ? What have 
I to fear?" said Mr. Aubrey. 

"Merry in the Hall! all, merry! 
merry ! But no one has heard it but 
old blind Bess. Where's the Squire ? " 
she added, suddenly turning her face 
full towards where they were standing 
— and it seemed whi'ened with emo- 
tion. Her staring eyes were settled 
on Mr. Aubrey's face, as if she were 
reading his very soul. 

"Here I am, dame," said he, with 
a great deal of curiosity, to say the 
least of it, 

" Give me your hand, Squire," said 
she, stretching out her left arm, and 
working about her talon-like fingers, 
as if in eagerness to grasp Mr. Au- 
brey's hand, which he gave her. 

"Never fear! never, never! Happy 
in the Hall! I see all! How long " 

"Why, dame, this is truly a very 
pleasant greeting of yours," inter- 
posed Dr. Tatham with a smile. 

"Short and bitter ! long and sweet ! 
Put your trust in God, Squire." 

" I hope I do, granny," replied Mr. 
Aubrey seriously. 

" I see ! I hear ! — my broth ! my 
broth ! — where is it ? " 

"Here it is, granny," said the girl. 

"Good-day, dame," said Mr. Au- 
brey, gently disengaging his hand 
from hers ; and before they had left 
the cottage she began to swallow very 
greedily the broth with which the 
little girl fed her. 

' ' This is the sort of way in which 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



141 



this old. superannuated creature has 
frightened one or two of " 

"Is it indeed ? " enquired Mr. Au- 
brey, with a sort of mechanical smile. 
Dr. Tatham saw that he was in a 
somewhat serious humour. 

"She's alarmed you, I protest! — 
I protest she has ! " exclaimed the 
Doctor, with a smile, as they walked 
along. Now, he knew the disposition 
and character of Aubrey intimately ; 
and was well aware of a certain tend- 
ency he had to superstition. 

"My dear Doctor, I assure you 
that you are mistaken — I am indeed 
not alarmed — but at the same time I 
will tell you something not a little 
singular. Would you believe that a 
month or two ago, when in town, I 
dreamed that I heard some one utter- 
ing something very much like the 
words which this old woman has just 
been uttering ? " 

"Ah ! ha, ha ! " laughed the Doc- 
tor ; and, after a second or two's 
pause, Aubrey, as if ashamed of what 
he had said, echoed the laugh, and 
their conversation passed on to political 
topics, which kept them engaged for 
the remainder of their walk, Mr. Au- 
brey quitting his companion at the 
door of the vicarage, to be rejoined by 
him at five o'clock, the dinner hour at 
the Hall. As Mr. Aubrey walked 
along the park, the shades of evening 
casting a deepening gloom around him, 
his thoughts involuntarily recurred to 
the cottage of old blind Bess, and he 
felt vague apprehensions flitting with 
darkening shade across his mind. 
Though he was hardly weak enough 
to attach any definite meaning or im- 
portance to the gibberish he had heard, 
it still had left an unpleasant impres- 
sion, and he was vexed at feeling a 
wish that the incident — trifling as he 
was willing to believe it — should not 
be mentioned by Dr. Tatham at the 
Hall ; and still more, on recollecting 
that he had purposely abstained from 
requesting the good Doctor not to do 
so. All this implied that the matter 
had occupied his thoughts to a greater 
extent than he secretly relished. On 
reaching, however, the Hall door, this 
brief pressure on his feelings quickly 



ceased ; for on entering he saw Mrs. 
Aubrey, his sister, and his two 
children, at high romps together in 
the hall, and he heartily joined in 
them. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

By five o'clock the little party were 
seated at the cheerful dinner-table, 
covered with the glittering old family 
plate, and that kind of fare, at once 
substantial and luxurious, which be- 
fitted the occasion. Old Mrs. Aubrey, 
in her simple white turban and black 
velvet dress, presided with a kind of 
dignified cheerfulness which was de- 
lightful to see. Kate had contrived 
to make herself look more lovely even 
than usual, wearing a dress of dark 
blue satin, tastefully trimmed with 
blonde, and which exquisitely com- 
ported with her beautiful complexion. 
Oh that Delamere had been sitting 
opposite to, or beside her ! The more 
matured proportions of her blooming 
sister-in-law appeared to infinite ad- 
vantage in a rich green velvet dress, 
while a superb diamond glistened with 
subdued lustre in her beautiful bosom. 
She wore no ornaments in her dark 
hair, which was, as indeed might be 
said of Kate, " when unadorned, 
adorned the most." The grey-headed, 
old butler, as brisk as his choicest 
champagne, with which he perpetually 
bustled round the table, and the two 
steady-looking old family servants, 
going about their business with quiet 
celerity — the delicious air of antique 
elegance around them, — this was a 
Christmas dinner after one's own 
heart ! — Oh the merry and dear old 
Yatton ! And as if there were not 
loveliness enough already in the room, 
behold the door suddenly pushed open 
as soon as the dessert is on the table, 
and run up to his gay and laughing 
mother, her little son, his ample 
snowy collar resting gracefully on his 
crimson velvet dress. 'Tis her hope 
and pride — her first-born — the little 
squire ; but where is his sister ? — 



142 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



where is Agnes ? 'Tis even as Charles 
says — she fell asleep in the very act of 
being dressed, and they were obliged 
to put her to bed ; so Charles is alone 
in his glory. You may well fold 
your delicate white arm around him, 
mamma ! — 

His little gold cup is nearly filled 
to join in the first toast : are you all 
ready ? The worthy Doctor has poured 
Mrs. Aubrey's glass and Kate's glass 
full up to the brim : — " Our next 
Christmas ! " 

Yes, your next Christmas ! The 
vigilant eye of Dr. Tatham alone per- 
ceived a faint change of colour in Mr. 
Aubrey's cheek as the words were 
uttered ; and his eye wandered for an 
instant, as if tracing across the room 
the image of old blind Bess ; but 
'twas gone in a moment ; Aubrey was 
soon in much higher spirits than 
usual. Well he might be. How 
could man be placed in happier cir- 
cumstances than he was ? As soon as 
the ladies had withdrawn, together 
with little Aubrey, the Doctor and 
Mr. Aubrey drew their chairs before 
the fire, and enjoyed a long hour's 
pleasant chat on matters domestic 
and political. As to the latter, the 
parson and the squire were stout 
Tories ; and a speech which Aubrey 
had lately delivered in the House, on 
the Catholic claims, had raised him to 
a pitch of eminence in the parson's 
estimation, where he had very few 
men in the country to keep him com- 
pany. The Doctor here got on very 
fast indeed ; and was just assuring the 
Squire that he saw dark days in store 
for Old England from the machinations 
of the Papists ; and that, for his part, 
he should rejoice to "seal his testi- 
mony with his blood," and would go 
to the stake not only without flinch- 
ing, but rejoicing— (all which I verily 
believe he verily believed he would 
have done) — and coveting the crown 
of martyrdom — when Aubrey caught 
the sounds of his sister playing on the 
organ, a noble instrument, which a 
year or two before, at her urgent re- 
quest, he had purchased and placed 
in the drawing-room, whither he and 
the Doctor at once repaired. 'Twas a 



spacious and lofty room, well calcu- 
lated for the splendid instrument 
which occupied the large recess front- 
ing the door. Miss Aubrey was play- 
ing Handel, and with an exquisite 
perception of his matchless power and 
beauty. Hark ! did you ever hear 
the grand yet simple recitative she is 
now commencing ? 

" In the, days of Herod the king, be- 
hold, there came wise men from the 
East to Jerusalem, 

' ' Saying — Where is he that is born 
King of the Jews ? for we have seen his 
star in the East, and are come to wor- 
ship him. " 

The Doctor officiated as chaplain 
that evening. The room was almost 
filled with servants, many of whose 
looks very plainly showed the merry 
doings that had been going on in the 
servants' hall ; some of them could 
scarce keep their eyes open ; one or 
two sat winking at each other, and so 
forth. Under the circumstances, there- 
fore, the Doctor, with much judgment, 
read very short prayers, and immedi- 
ately afterwards took his departure for 
his snug little vicarage. 

The next morning, which proved as 
fine as the preceding, Mr. Aubrey was 
detained in-doors with his letters, and 
one or two other little matters of 
business in his library, till luncheon 
time. "What say you, Kate, to a 
ride round the estate ? " said he, on 
taking his seat. Miss Aubrey was 
delighted ; and forthwith the horses 
were ordered to be got ready as soon 
as possible. 

" You must not mind a little rough 
riding, Kate," said Aubrey ; " for 
we've got to go over some ugly places. 
I'm going to meet Waters at the end 
of the avenue, about that old sycamore 
— we must have it down at last. " 

" Oh no, Charles, no ; I thought we 
had settled that last year," replied 
Kate earnestly. 

' ' Pho ! if it had not been for you, 
Kate, it would have been down two 
years ago at least. Its hour is come 
at last ; 'tis indeed, so no pouting ! 
It is injuring the other trees ; and, 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



143 



besides, it spoils the prospect from the 
back of the house. " 

" 'Tis only "Waters that puts all 
these things into your head, Charles, 
and I shall let him know mxj opinion 
on the subject when I see him ! 
Mamma, haven't you a word to say 
for the old " 

But Mr. Aubrey, not deeming it 
discreet to await the new force which 
was being brought against him, started 
off to go round and see a newly- 
purchased horse, just brought to the 
stables. 

Kate, who really became everything, 
looked charming in her blue riding- 
habit, sitting on her horse with infinite 
ease and grace — a capital horsewoman. 
The exercise soon brought a rich bloom 
upon her cheek ; and as she cantered 
along the road by the side of her 
brother, no one that met them but 
must have been struck with her 
beauty. Just as they had dropped into 
an easy walk — 

"Charles," said she, observing two 
horsemen approaching them, ' ' who can 
these be ? Heavens ! did you ever see 
such figures ? And how they ride ! " 

"Why, certainly," replied her 
brother smiling, "they look a brace of 
undoubted Cockneys ! what can they 
be doing in these parts 1 " 

"Dear me, what puppies!" ex- 
claimed Miss Aubrey, lowering her 
voice as they neared the persons she 
spoke of. 

"They are certainly a most ex- 
traordinary couple ! Who can they 
be ? " said Mr. Aubrey, a smile forcing 
itself into his features. One of the 
two was dressed in a light blue surtout, 
with the tip of a white pocket-hand- 
kerchief seen peeping out of a pocket 
in the front of it. His hat, with scarce 
any brim to it, was stuck aslant on 
the top of a bushy head of queer- 
coloured hair. His shirt-collars were 
turned down completely over his stock, 
displaying a great quantify of dirt- 
colomxd hair under his chin ; while a 
pair of moustaches, of the same colour, 
were sprouting upon his upper lip. 
A quizzing-gluss was stuck in his right 
ey ", and in his hand he carried a 
whip with a shining silver head. The 



other was almost equally distinguished 
by the elegance of his appearance. 
He had a glossy hat, a purple-coloured 
velvet waistcoat, two pins connected 
by little chains in his stock, a bottle- 
green surtout, sky-blue trousers. In 
short, who should these be but our 
old friends Messrs. Titmouse and Snap ? 
Whoever they might be, it was plain 
that they were perfect novices on 
horseback, and their horses had every 
appearance of having been much fretted 
and worried by their riders. To the 
surprise of Mr. Aubrey and his sister, 
these two personages attempted to rein 
in, as they neared, with the evident 
intention of speaking to them. 

"Pray — a — sir, will you, sir, tell 
us," commenced Titmouse, with a 
desperate attempt to appear at his 
ease, as he tried to make his horse 
stand still for a moment — "isn't there 
a place called — called ' ' — here his horse, 
whose sides were constantly being 
galled by the spurs of its unconscious 
rider, began to back a little, then to 
go on one side, and, in Titmouse's 
fright, his glass dropped from his eye, 
and he seized hold of the pummel. 
Nevertheless, to show the lady how 
completely he was at his ease all the 
while, he levelled a great many oaths 
and curses at the unfortunate eyes and 
soul of his wayward brute ; who, 
however, not in the least moved by 
them, but infinitely disliking the 
spurs of its rider and the twisting 
round of its mouth by the reins, 
seemed more and more inclined for 
mischief, and backed close up to the 
edge of the ditch. 

"I'm afraid, sir," said Mr. Aubrey 
kindly, "you are not much accustomed 
to riding. Will you permit me- " 

"Oh, yes— ye — ye — s, sir, I am 
uncommon — whee-o-uy ! whuoy ! " — 
(then a fresh volley of oaths. ) ' ' Oh, 
dear, 'pon my soul — ho ! — what — 
what is he going to do ! Snap ! Snap ! " 
— 'Twas, however, quite in vain to 
call on that gentleman for assistance ; 
for he had grown as pale as death, on 
finding that his own brute seemed 
strongly disposed to follow the infernal 
example of the other, and was par- 
ticularly inclined to rear up on its 



144 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



hind-legs. The very first motion of 
the sort brought Snap's heart (not 
large enough, perhaps, to choke him) 
into his mouth. Titmouse's beast 
suddenly inclined the contrary way; 
and throwing its hind feet into the 
air, sent its terrified rider flying, head 
over heels, into the very middle of the 
hedge, from which he dropped into 
the wet ditch. Both Mr. Aubrey and 
his groom dismounted, and secured 
the horse, who, having got rid of its 
ridiculous rider, stood quietly enough. 
Titmouse proved to be more frightened 
than hurt. His hat was crushed fiat 
on his head, and half the left side of 
his face covered with mud — as, indeed, 
were his clothes all the way down. 
The groom (almost splitting with 
laughter) helped him on again ; and 
as Mr. and Miss Aubrey were setting 
off — "I think, sir," said the former 
politely, "you were enquiring for 
some place ? " 

"Yes, sir," quoth Snap. "Isn't 
there a place called Ya — Yat — Yat — 
(be quiet, you brute !) — Yatton about 
here ? " 

"Yes, sir — straight on," replied 
Mr. Aubrey. Miss Aubrey hastily 
threw her veil over her face, to con- 
ceal her laughter, spurred her horse, 
and she and her brother were soon out 
of sight of the strangers. 

"I say, Snap," quoth Titmouse, 
when he had in a measure cleansed him- 
self, and they had both got a little 
composed, "see that lovely gal?" 

"Fine girl — devilish fine ! " replied 
Snap. 

" I'm blessed if I don't think — 'pon 
my life, I believe we've met before ! " 

"Didn't seem to know you 
though ! " 

"Ah ! I don't know — how uncom- 
mon infernal unfortunate to happen 
just at the moment when " Tit- 
mouse became silent ; for all of a sud- 
den he recollected when and where, and 
under what circumstances he had seen 
Miss Aubrey before, and which his 
vanity would not allow of his telling 
Snap. The fact was, that she had 
once accompanied her sister-in-law to 
Messrs. Tag-rag and Company's, to 
purchase some small matter of mercery. 



Titmouse had helped her, and Lis 
absurdity of manner had provoked a 
smile, which Titmouse a little mis- 
construed ; for when, a Sunday or two 
afterwards, he met her in the Park, 
the little fool had the presumption 
to nod to her — she having not the 
slightest notion who he was — and of 
course not having, on the present 
occasion, the least recollection of him. 
The reader will remember that this 
little incident made a deep impression 
on the mind of Mr. Titmouse. 

The coincidence was really not a 
little singular — but to return to Mr. 
Aubrey and his sister. After riding a 
mile or two further up the road, they 
leaped over a very low mound or fence, 
which formed the extreme boundary 
of that part of the estate, and having 
passed through a couple of fields, they 
entered the lower extremity of that 
fine avenue of elms, at the higher end 
of which stood Kate's favourite tree, 
and also Waters and his under-bailiff 
— who looked to her like a couple of 
executioners, only awaiting the fiat of 
her brother. The sun shone brightly 
upon the doomed sycamore — " the axe 
was laid at its root." As they rode 
up the avenue, Kate begged very hard 
for mercy ; but for once her brother 
seemed obdurate — the tree, he said, 
must come down — 'twas all nonsense 
to think of having it standing any 
longer ! — 

" Remember, Charles," said she, 
passionately, as they drew up, "how 
we've all of us romped and sported 
under it ! Poor papa also " 

" See, Kate, how rotten it is," said 
her brother ; and riding close to it, 
with his whip he snapped off two or 
three of its feeble silvery-grey branches 
— "it's high time for it to come 
down." 

" It fills the grass all around with 
little branches, sir, whenever there's 
the least breath of wind," said Waters. 

"It won't hardly hold a crow's 
weight on the topmost branches, sir," 
said Dickons, the under-bailiff. 

" Had it any leaves last summer ? " 
enquired Mr. Aubrey. 

"I don't think, sir," said Waters, 
" it had a hundred all over it ! " 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK. 



145 



"Really, Kate, 'tis such a melan- 
choly, unsightly object, when seen 
from any part of the Hall " — turning 
round on his horse to look at the rear 
of the Hall, which was at about eighty 
yards' distance. "It looks such an 
old withered thing amongst the fresh 
green trees around it — 'tis quite a pain- 
ful contrast." Kate had gently urged 
on her horse while her brother was 
speaking, till she was close beside him. 
" Charles," said she, in a low whisper, 
" does not it remind you a little of 
poor old mamma, with her grey hairs, 
among her children and grandchildren ? 
She is not out of place amongst us — is 
she ? " Her eyes filled with tears. So 
did her brother's. 

"Dearest Kate," said he, with 
emotion, affectionately grasping her 
little hand, "you have triumphed! 
The old tree shall never be cut down 
in my time ! Waters, let the tree 
stand ; and if anything is to be done 
to it — let the greatest care be taken of 
it." Miss Aubrey turned her head 
aside to conceal her emotion. Had 
they been alone, she would have flung 
her arms round her brother's neck. 

" If I were to speak my mind," said 
"Waters, seeing the turn things were 
taking, " I should say, with our young 
lady, the old tree's quite a kind of 
ornament in this here situation, and 
(as one might say) it sets off the rest." 
[It was he who had been worrying Mr. 
Aubrey for these last three years to 
have it cut down.] 

"Well," replied Mr. Aubrey, " how- 
ever that may be, let me hear no more 
of cutting it down. — Ah ! what does 
old Jolter want here ? " said he, observ- 
ing an old tenant of that name, almost 
bent double with age, hobbling towards 
them. He was wrapped up in a coarse 
thick blue coat ; his hair was long and 
white ; his eyes dim and glassy with age. 

"I don't know, sir — I'll go and 
see," said Waters. 

"What's the matter, Jolter?" he 
enquired, stepping forward to meet 
him. 

"Nothing much, sir," replied the 
old man, taking off his hat, and bow- 
ing very low towards Mr. and Miss 
Aubrey. 



"Put your hat on, my old friend," 
said Mr. Aubrey kindly. 

"I only come to bring you this bit 
of paper, sir, if you please," said the 
old man, addressing Waters. "You 
said, a while ago, as how I was always 
to bring you papers that were left 
with me ; and this " — taking one out 
of his pocket — " was left with me only 
about an hour ago. It's seemingly a 
lawyer's paper, and was left by an un- 
common gay young chap. He asked 
me my name, and then he looked 
at the paper, and read it all over to 
me, but I couldn't make anything 
of it." 

' ' What is it ? " enquired Mr. Aubrey, 
as Waters cast his eye over a sheet 
of paper, partly printed and partly 
written. 

" Why, it seems the old story, sir — 
that slip of waste land, sir. Mr. 
Tomkins is at it again, sir." 

"Well, if he chooses to spend his 
money in that way, I can't help it," 
said Mr. Aubrey with a smile. " Let 
me look at the paper." He did so. 
" Yes, it seems the same kind of thing 
as before. Well," handing it back, 
"send it to Mr. Parkinson, and tell 
him to look to it ; and, at all events, 
take care that poor old Jolter comes 
to no trouble by the business. How's 
the old wife, Jacob ? " 

"She's dreadful bad with rheu- 
matis, sir ; but the stuff that Madam 
sends her does her a woundy deal of 
good, sir, in her inside." 

' ' Well, we must try if we can't send 
you some more ; and, harkee, if the 
goodwife doesn't get better soon, send 
us up word to the Hall, and we'll have 
the doctor call on her. Now, Kate, 
let us away homeward." And they 
were soon out of sight. 

I do not intend to deal so uncere- 
moniously or summarily as Mr. Aubrey 
did with the document which had 
been brought to his notice by Jolter, 
then handed over to Waters, and by 
him, according to orders, transmitted, 
the next day to Mr. Parkinson, Mr. 
Aubrey's attorney. It was what is 
called a "Declaration in Eject- 
ment ; " touching which, in order to 
throw a ray or two of light upon a 

L 



146 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



document which will make no small 
figure in this history, I shall try to 
give the reader a little information on 
the point ; and hope that a little atten- 
tion to what now follows, will be 
repaid in due time. 

If Jones claims a debt or goods, or 
damages from Smith, one would think 
that, if he went to law, the action 
would be entitled "Jones versus 
Smith ; " and so it is. But behold, if 
it be LAND which is claimed by Jones 
from Smith, the style and name of the 
cause stand thus: — "Doe, on the 
demise of Jones, versus Roe. " Instead, 
therefore, of Jones and Smith fighting 
out the matter in their own proper 
names, they set up a couple of puppets, 
(called "John Doe" and "Richard 
Roe,") who fall upon one another in a 
very quaint fashion, after the manner 
of Punch and Judy. John Doe pre- 
tends to be the real plaintiff, and 
Richard Roe the real defendant. John 
Doe says that the land which Richard 
Roe has is his, (the said John Doe's,) 
because Jones (the real plaintiff) gave 
him a lease of it; and Jones is then 
called "the lessor of the plaintiff." 
John Doe further says that one Richard 
Roe, (who calls himself by the very 
significant and expressive name of a' 
"Casual Ejector,") came and turned 
him out, and so John Doe brings his 
action against Richard Roe. "lis a 
fact, that whenever land is sought to 
be recovered in England, this anomal- 
ous and farcical proceeding must be 
adopted. It is the duty of the real 
plaintiff (Jones) to serve on the real 
defendant (Smith) a copy of the queer 
document which I shall proceed to lay 
before the reader ; and also to append 
to it an affectionate note, intimating 
the serious consequences which will 
ensue upon inattention or contumacy. 
The "Declaration," then, which had 
been served upon old Jolter, was in 
the words, letters, and figures follow- 
ing — that is to say : — 

"In the King's Bench. 

"Michaelmas Term, — th Geo. — 

" Yorkshire, to- wit. — Richard Roe 

was attached to answer John Doe of a 

plea wherefore the said Richard Roe, 



with force and arms, &c, entered into 
two messuages, two dwelling-houses, 
two cottages, two stables, two out- 
houses, two yards, two gardens, two 
orchards, twenty acres of land covered 
with water, twenty acres of arable 
land, twenty acres of pasture land, and 
twenty acres of other land, with the 
appurtenances, situated in the parish 
of Yattmi, in the county of Yorkshire, 
which Tittlebat Titmouse, Esquire, 
had demised to the said John Doe for 
a term which is not yet expired, and 
ejected him from his said farm, and 
other wrongs to the said John Doe 
there did, to the great damage of the 
said John Doe, and against the peace 
of our Lord the King, &c. ; and There- 
upon the said John Doe, by Oily 
Gammon, his attorney, complains, — 
"That whereas the said Tittlebat 
Titmouse, on the — th day of August, 
in the year of our Lord 18 — , at the 
parish aforesaid, in the county afore- 
said, had demised the same tenements, 
with the appurtenances, to the said 
John Doe, to have and to hold the 
same to the said John Doe and his 
assigns thenceforth, for and during, 
and unto the full end and term of 
twenty years thence next ensuing, 
and fully to be completed and ended : 
By virtue of which said demise, the 
said John Doe entered into the said 
tenements, with the appurtenances, 
and became and was thereof possessed 
for the said term, so to him thereof 
granted as aforesaid. And the said 
John Doe being so thereof possessed, 
the said Richard Roe afterwards, to- 
wit, on the day and year aforesaid, at 
the parish aforesaid, in the county 
aforesaid, with force and arms, &c, 
entered into the said tenements, with 
the appurtenances, which the said 
Tittlebat Titmouse had demised to 
the said John Doe in manner and for 
the term aforesaid, which is not yet 
expired, and ejected the said John Doe 
from his said farm ; and other wrongs 
to the said John Doe then and there 
did, to the great damage of the said 
John Doe, and against the peace of our 
said Lord the now King. Wherefore 
the said John Doe saith that he is 
injured, and hath sustained damage 



ten thousand a-year. 



147 



to the value of £50, and therefore he 
brings his suit, &c. 

"Squeal, for the Plaintiff. 
Growl, for the Defendant. 
Pledges of ) John Den. 
Prosecution. / Richard Fenn. 

"Mr. Jacob Jolter, 

" I am informed that you are in 
possession of, or claim title to, the 
premises in this Declaration of Eject- 
ment mentioned, or to some part 
thereof: And I, being sued in this 
action as a casual ejector only, and 
having no claim or title to the same, 
do advise you to appear, next Hilary 
Term, in His Majesty's Court of Com- 
mon Pleas at Westminster, by some 
attorney of that Court ; and then and 
there, by a rule to be made of the same 
Court, to cause yourself to be made 
defendant in my stead ; otherwise, I 
shall suffer judgment to be entered 
against me by default, and you will be 
turned out of possession. 

" Your loving friend, 

"Ei chard Roe. 

"Dated this 8th day of December, 
18—." 



You may regard the above document 
in the light of a deadly and destructive 
missile, thrown by an unperceived 
enemy into a peaceful citadel, attract- 
ing no particular notice from the 
innocent unsuspecting inhabitants — 
amongst whom, nevertheless, it pre- 
sently explodes, and all is terror, 
death, and ruin. 

Mr. Parkinson, Mr. Aubrey's soli- 
citor, who resided at Grilston, the 
post-town nearest to Yatton, from 
which it was distant about six or 
seven miles, was sitting on the evening 
of Tuesday the 28th December 18—, 
in his office, nearly finishing a letter 
to his London agents, Messrs. Run- 
nington and Company — one of the 
most eminent firms in the profession — 
and which he was desirous of despatch- 
ing by that night's mail. Amongst 
other papers which have come into 
my hands in connection with this 
history, 1 have happened to light on 
the letter Mr. Parkinson was writing ; 



and as it is not long, and affords a spe- 
cimen of the way in which business is 
carried on between town and country 
attorneys and solicitors, here followeth 
a copy of it : — 

*' Grilston, 28th Dec. 18—. 

" Dear Sirs, 

"Re Middleton. 
' ' Have you got the marriage-settle- 
ments between these parties ready ? 
If so, please send them as soon as 
possible ; for both the lady's and gen- 
tleman's friends are (as usual in such 
cases) very pressing for them. 

" Puddinghead v. Quickwit. 

" Plaintiff bought a horse of defendant 
in November last, 'warranted sound,' 
and paid for it on the spot £64. A 
week afterwards his attention was 
accidentally drawn to the animal's 
head. ; and, to his infinite surprise, he 
discovered that the left eye was a glass 
eye, so closely resembling the other in 
colour, that the difference could not 
be discovered except on a very close 
examination. I have seen it myself, 
and it is indeed wonderfully well done. 
My countrymen are certainly pretty 
sharp hands in such matters — but this 
beats everything I ever heard of. 
Surely this is a breach of the warranty ? 
Or is it to be considered a patent defect, 
wh'ch would not be within the war- 
ranty ? — Please take pleader's opinion, 
and particularly as to whether the 
horse could be brought into court to 
be viewed by the court and jury, which 
would have a great effect. If your 
pleader thinks the action will lie, let 
him draw declaration, venue — Lanca- 
shire (for my client would have no 
chance with a Yorkshire jury.) If you 
think the venue is transitory, and that 
defendant would not be successful in a 
motion, change it. Qu. — Is the man 
who sold the horse to defendant a 
competent witness for the plaintiff, to 
prove that, when he sold it to defend- 
ant, it had but one eye, and that on 
this account the horse was sold for 
less ? 

' Mule v. Stott. 

" I cannot get these parties to come 
to an amicable settlement. You may 

N L 2 



148 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



remember, from the two former actions, 
that it is for damages on account of 
two geese of defendant having been 
found trespassing on a few j'ards of 
Chatmoss belonging to the plaintiff. 
Defendant now contends that he is 
entitled to common, pour cause de 
vicinage. Qu. — Can this be shown 
under Not Guilty, or must it be pleaded 
specially ? — About two years ago, by 
the way, a pig belonging to plaintiff 
got into defendant's flower-garden, 
and did at least £3 worth of damage — 
Can this be in any way set off agtiinst 
the present action ? There is no hope 
of avoiding a third trial, as the parties 
are now more exasperated against each 
other than ever, and the expense (as 
at least fifteen witnesses will be called 
on each side) will amount to upwards 
of £250. You had better retain Mr. 
Caeklegander. 

' ' Re Lords Oldacre and De la Zouch. 
" Are the deeds herein engrossed ? 
As it is a matter of magnitude, and 
the foundation of extensive and per- 
manent family arrangements, pray let 
the greatest care be taken to secure 
accuracy. Please take special care of 
the stamps " 

Thus far had the worthy writer pro- 
ceeded with his letter, when Waters 
made his appearance, delivering to him 
the declaration in ejectment which had 
been served upon old Jolter, and also 
the instructions concerning it which 
had been given by Mr. Aubrey. After 
Mr. Parkinson had asked particularly 
concerning Mr. Aubrey's health, and 
what had brought him so suddenly to 
Yatton, he cast his eye hastily over 
the " Declaration " — and at once came 
to the same conclusion concerning it 
which had been arrived at by Waters 
and Mr. Aubrey, viz. that it was an- 
other little arrow out of the quiver of 
the litigious Mr. Tomkins. As soon 
as Waters had left, Mr. Parkinson thus 
proceeded to conclude his letter : — 

"Doe dem. Titmouse v. Roe. 
' I enclose you Declaration herein, 
served yesterday. No doubt it is the 
disputed slip of waste land adjoining 



the cottage of old Jacob Jolter, a tenant 
of Mr. Aubrey of Yatton, that is sought 
to be recovered. I am quite sick of 
this petty annoyance, as also is Mr. 
Aubrey, who is now down here. Please 
call on Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap, of Saffron Hill, and settle the 
matter finally, on the best terms you 
can ; it being Mr. Aubrey's wish that 
old Jolter (who is very feeble and 
timid) should suffer no inconvenience. 
I observe a new lessor of the plaintiff, 
with a very singular name. I suppose 
it is the name of some prior holder of 
the little property at present held by 
Mr. Tomkins. 

"Hoping soon to hear from you, 
(particularly about the marriage-settle- 
ment, ) I am, 

" Dear Sirs, 
" (With all the compliments of the 
season,) 

" Yours truly, 
"James Parkinson. 

"P.S. — The oysters and codfish 
came to hand in excellent order, for 
which please accept my best thanks. 

' ' I shall remit you in a day or two 
£100 on account." 

This letter, lying among some twenty 
or thirty similar ones on Mr. Run- 
nington's table, on the morning of its 
arrival in town, was opened in its 
turn ; and then, in like manner, with 
most of the others, handed over to the 
managing clerk, in order that he might 
enquire into and report upon the state 
of the various matters of business re- 
ferred to. As to the last item in Mr. 
Parkinson's letter, there seemed no 
particular reason for hurrying ; so two 
or three days had elapsed before Mr. 
Runnington, having some other little 
business to transact with Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap, bethought him- 
self of looking at his Diary, to see if 
there was not something else that he 
had to do with them. Putting, there- 
fore, the Declaration in Doe d. Tit- 
mouse v. Roe into his pocket, it was 
not long before he was at the office in 
Saffron Hill — and in the very room in 
it which had been the scene of several 
memorable interviews between Mr. 



TEX THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



149 



Tittlebat Titmouse and Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap. I shall not detail 
what transpired on that occasion be- 
tween Mr. Runnington and Messrs. 
Quirk and Gammon, with whom he 
was closeted for nearly an hour. On 
quitting the office his cheek was flush- 
ed, and his manner somewhat excited. 
After walking a little way in a moody 
manner, and with slow step, he sud- 
denly jumped into a hackney-coach, 
and within a quarter of an hour's time 
had secured an inside place in the 
Tallyho coach, which started for York 
at two o'clock that afternoon — much 
doubting within himself, the while, 
whether he ought not to have set off 
at once in a post-chaise and four. He 
then made one or two calls in the 
Temple ; and, hurrying home to the 
office, made hasty arrangements for 
his sudden journey - into Yorkshire. 
He was a calm and experienced man — 
in fact, a first-rate man of business ; 
and you may be assured that this rapid 
and decisive movement of his had been 
the result of some very startling dis- 
closure made to him by Messrs. Quirk 
and Gammon. 

Now, let us glide back to the de- 
lightful solitude which we reluctantly 
quitted so short a time ago. 

Mr. Aubrey was a studious and am- 
bitious'man ; and in acceding so readily 
te the wishes of his wife and sister, to 
spend the Christmas recess at Yatton, 
had been not a little influenced by 
one consideration, which he had not 
thought it worth while to mention- 
namely, that it would afford him an 
opportunity of addressing himself with 
effect to a very important and com- 
plicated question, which was to be 
brought before the House shortly after 
its re-assembling, and of which he 
then knew scarcely anything at all. 
For this purpose he had had a quantity 
of Parliamentary papers, &c. &c. &c, 
packed up and sent down by coach ; 
and he quite gloated over the prospect 
of their being duly deposited upon his 
table, in the tranquil leisure of his 
library, at Yatton. But quietly as he 
supposed all this to have been managed, 
Mrs. Aubrey and Kate had a most ac- 
curate knowledge of his movements ; 



and resolved within themselves (being 
therein comforted and assisted by old 
Mrs. Aubrey), that, as at their in- 
stances Mr. Aubrey had come down 
to Yatton, so they would take care 
that he should have not merely nom- 
inal, but real holidays. Unless he 
thought fit to rise at an early hour 
in the morning (which Mrs. Aubrey, 
junior, took upon herself to say she 
would take care should never be the 
case), it was decreed that he should 
not be allowed to waste more than two 
hours a-day in his library. 'Twas 
therefore in vain for him to sit at 
breakfast with eye aslant and thought- 
laden brow, as if meditating a long 
day's seclusion ; somehow or another, 
he never got above an hour to himself. 
He was often momentarily petulant 
on these occasions, and soon saw 
through the designs of his enemies ; 
but he so heartily and tenderly loved 
them — so thoroughly appreciated the 
affection which dictated their little 
manoeuvres — that he soon surrendered 
at discretion, and, in fact, placed him- 
self almost entirely at their mercy ; 
resolving to make up for lost time on 
his return to town, and earnestly 
hoping that the interests of the nation 
would not suffer in the mean while ! 
In short, the ladies of Yatton had 
agreed on their line of operations : 
that almost every night of their stay 
in the country should be devoted 
either to entertaining or visiting their 
neighbours ; and, as a preparatory 
movement, that the days (weather 
permitting) should be occupied with 
exercise in the open air ; in making 
"morning" calls on neighbours at 
several miles' distance from the Hall, 
and from each other ; and from which 
they generally returned only in time 
enough to dress for dinner. As soon, 
indeed, as the York True Blue (the 
leading county paper) had announced 
the arrival at Yatton of " Charles 
Aubrey, Esq., M.P., and his family, 
for the Christmas recess," the efforts 
of Mrs. and Miss Aubrey were most 
powerfully seconded by a constant 
succession of visitors — by 

" Troops of friends," 



150 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



as the lodge-keeper could have testi- 
fied ; for he and his buxom wife were 
continually opening and shutting the 
great gates. On the Monday after 
Christmas-day, (i. c. the day but one 
following,) came cantering up to the 
Hall Lord De la Zouch and Mr. Dela- 
mere, of course staying to luncheon, 
and bearing a most pressing invitation 
from Lady De la Zouch, zealously 
backed by themselves, for the Aubreys 
to join a large party at Fotheringham 
Castle on New- Year's Eve. This was 
accepted — a day and a night were 
thus gone at a swoop. The same 
thing happened with the Oldfields, 
their nearest neighbours ; with Sir 
Percival Pickering at Luddington 
Court, where was a superb new pic- 
ture - gallery to be critically in- 
spected by Mr. Aubrey ; the Earl 
of Oldacre, a college friend of Mr. 
Aubrey's — the venerable Lady Strat- 
ton, the earliest friend and school- 
fellow of old Mrs. Aubrey, and so 
forth. Then Kate had several visits 
to pay on her own account ; and, being 
fond of horseback, she did not like 
riding about the country with only a 
groom in attendance on her ; so her 
brother must accompany her on these 
occasions. The first week of their 
stay in the country was devoted to 
visiting their neighbours and friends 
in the way I have stated ; the next 
was to be spent in receiving them at 
Yatton, during which time the old 
Hall was to ring with merry 
hospitality. 

Then there was a little world of 
other matters to occupy Mr. Aubrey's 
attention, and which naturally 
crowded upon him, living so little 
at Yatton as he had latterly. He 
often had a kind of levee of his 
humbler neighbours, tenants, and con- 
stituents ; and on these occasions his 
real goodness of nature, his simplicity, 
his patience, his forbearance, his 
sweetness of temper, his benevolence, 
shone conspicuous. With all these 
more endearing qualities, there was 
yet a placid dignity about him that 
chilled undue familiarity, and repelled 
presumption. He had here no motive 
or occasion for ostentation, or, as it is 



called, popularity -hunting. In a sense 
it might be said of him, that he was 
monarch of all he surveyed." It is 
true, he was member for the borough 
— an honour, however, for which he 
was indebted to the natural influence 
of his commanding position — one which 
left him his own master, not convert- 
ing him into a paltry delegate, hand- 
cuffed by pledges on public questions, 
and laden with injunctions concerning 
petty local interests only — liable, 
moreover, to be called to an account 
at any moment by ignorant and inso- 
lent demagogues — but a member of 
Parliament training to become a states- 
man, possessed of a free will, and 
therefore capable of independent and 
enlightened deliberations ; placed by 
his fortune above the reach of tempt- 
ation but I shall not go any 

further, for the portraiture of a mem- 
ber of Parliament of those days sug- 
gests such a humiliating and bitter 
contrast, that I shall not ruffle either 
my own or my reader's temper by 
touching it any further. On the 
occasions I have been alluding to, Mr. 
Aubrey was not only condescending 
and generous, but practically acute 
and discriminating : qualities of his, 
these latter, so well known, however, 
as to leave him at length scarce any 
opportunities of exercising them. His 
quiet but decisive interference put an 
end to a number of local unpleasant- 
nesses and annoyances, and caused his 
increasing absence from Yatton to be 
very deeply regretted. Was a lad or 
a wench taking to idle and dissolute 
cour.es ? A kind, or, as the occasion 
required, a stern expostulation of his 
— for he was a justice of the peace 
moreover — brought them to their 
senses. He had a very happy knack 
of reasoning and laughing quarrelsome 
neighbours into reconciliation and 
good-humour. He had a very keen 
eye after the practical details of agri- 
culture ; was equally qnick at detect- 
ing an inconvenience, and appreciating 
— sometimes even suggesting — a 
remedy ; and had, on several occa- 
sions, brought such knowledge to bear 
very effectively upon discussions in 
Parliament. His constituents, few in 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



151 



number undoubtedly, and humble, 
were quite satisfied with and proud of 
their member ; and his unexpected 
appearance diffused among them real 
and general satisfaction. As a land- 
lord, he was beloved by his numerous 
tenantry ; and well he might — for 
never was there so easy and liberal a 
landlord : he might at any time have 
increased his rental by £1500 or £2000 
a-year, as his steward frequently 
intimated to him — but in vain. " Ten 
thousand a-year," said Mr. Aubrey, 
' ' is far more than my necessities require 
— it affords me and my family every 
luxury that I can conceive of ; and 
its magnitude reminds me constantly 
that hereafter I shall be called upon 
to give a very strict and solemn 
account of my stewardship. " I would 
I had time to complete, as it ought to 
be completed, this portraiture of a 
true Christian gentleman ! 

As he rode up to the Hare and 
Hounds Inn, at Grilston, one morning, 
to transact some little business, and 
also to look in on the Farmers' Club, 
which was then holding one of its 
fortnightly meetings, (all touching 
their hats and bowing to him on each 
side of the long street as he slowly 
passed up it,) he perceived one of his 
horse's feet limp a little. On dis- 
mounting, therefore, he stopped to 
see what was the matter, while his 
groom took up the foot to examine it. 

" Dey- vilish fine horse ! " exclaimed 
the voice of one standing close beside 
him, and in a tone of most disagree- 
able confidence. The exclamation was 
addressed to Mr. Aubrey ; who, on 
turning to the speaker, beheld a young 
man — 'twas Titmouse— dressed in a 
style of the most extravagant ab- 
surdity. One hand was stuck into 
the hinder pocket of a stylish top-coat, 
(the everlasting tip of a white pocket- 
handkerchief glistening at the mouth 
of his breast-pocket ;) the other held a 
cigar to his mouth, from which, as he 
addressed Mr. Aubrey with an air of 
signal assurance, he slowly expelled 
the smoke that he had inhaled. Mr. 
Aubrey turned towards him with a 
cold and surprised air, without reply- 
ing, at the same time wondering where 



he had seen the ridiculous object 
before. 

"The horses in these parts ar'n't to 
be compared with them at London — 
eh, sir ? " quoth Titmouse, approaching 
closer to Mr. Aubrey and his groom, 
to see what the latter was doing — who, 
on hearing Titmouse's last sally, gave 
him a very significant look. 

"I'm afraid the people here won't 
relish your remarks, sir ! " replied Mr. 
Aubrey, hardly able to forbear a smile, 
at the same time with an astonished 
air scanning the figure of his com- 
panion from head to foot. 

"Who cares ? " enquired Titmouse, 
with a very energetic oath. At this 
moment up came a farmer, who, 
observing Mr. Aubrey, made him a 
very low bow. Mr. Aubrey's attention 
being at the moment occupied with 
Titmouse, he did not observe the 
salutation ; not so with Titmouse, 
who, conceiving it to have been 
directed to himself, acknowledged it 
by taking off his hat with great grace ! 
Mr. Aubrey followed in to the house, 
having ordered his groom to bring 
back the horse in an hour's time, 

" Pray," said he mildly to the land- 
lady, "who is that person smoking 
the cigar outside ? " 

"Why, sir," she replied, "he's a 
Mr. Brown ; and has another with 
him here- — who's going up to London 
by this afternoon's coach — this one 
stays behind a day or two longer. 
They're queer people, sir. Such 
dandies ! Do nothing but smoke, and 
drink brandy and water, sir ; only 
that t'other writes a good deal." 

"Well, I wish you would remind 
him, "said Mr. Aubrey, smiling, "that, 
if he thinks fit to speak to me again, 
or in my presence, I am a magistrate, 
and have the power of fining him five 
shillings for every oath he utters. " 

"What ! sir, has he been speaking 
to you ? Well, I never — he's the most 
forward little upstart I ever seed ! " 
said she, dropping her voice; "and 
the sooner he takes himself off from 
here the better ; for he's always wink- 
ing at the maids and talking impu- 
dence to them. I'se box his ears, I 
warrant him, one of these times ! " 



152 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



Mr. Aubrey smiled, and went up- 
stairs. 

"There don't seem much wrong," 
quoth Titmouse to the groom, with a 
condescending air, as soon as Mr. 
Aubrey had entered the house. 

"Much you know about it, I don't 
guess ! " quoth Sam, with a con- 
temptuous smile. 

"Who's your master, fellow?" en- 
quired Titmouse, knocking off the 
ashes from the tip of his cigar. 

"A gentleman. What's yours?" 

" Curse your impudence, you vaga- 
bond " The words were hardly 

out of his mouth before Sam, with a 
slight tap of his hand, had knocked 
Titmouse's glossy hat off his head, 
and Titmouse's purple-hued hair stood 
exposed to view, provoking the jeers 
and laughter of one or two bystanders. 
Titmouse appeared about to strike the 
groom ; who, hastily giving the bridles 
of his horses into the hands of an ostler, 
threw himself into boxing attitude ; 
and, being a clean, tight-built, stout 
young fellow, looked a very formidable 
object, as lie came squaring nearer and 
nearer to the dismayed Titmouse ; and 
on behalf of the outraged honour of all 
the horses of Yorkshire, was just going 
to let fly his one-two, when a sharp 
tapping at the bow-window overhead 
startled him for a moment, interrupt- 
ing his warlike demonstrations ; and, 
on casting up his eyes, he beheld the 
threatening figure of his master, who 
was shaking his whip at him. He 
dropped his guard, touched his hat 
very humbly, and resumed his horses' 
bridles ; muttering, however, to Tit- 
mouse, " If thou'rt a man, come down 
into t' yard, and I'll mak thee think a 
horse kicked thee, a liar as thou art ! " 

"Who's that gentleman gone up- 
stairs ? " enquired Titmouse of the land- 
lady, after he had sneaked into the inn. 

"Squire Aubrey of Yatton," she re- 
plied tartly. Titmouse's face, pre- 
viously very pale, flushed all over. 
"Ay, ay," she continued sharply — 
"thou must be chattering to the grand 
folks, and thou'st nearly put thy foot 
into 't at last, I can tell thee ; for 
that's a magistrate, and thou'st been 
a - swearing afore him." Titmouse 



smiled rather faintly ; and entering 
the parlour, affected to be engaged 
with a county newspaper ; and he re- 
mained very quiet for upwards of an 
hour, not venturing out of the room 
till he had seen off Mr. Aubrey and 
his formidable Sam. 

It was the hunting season ; but Mr. 
Aubrey, though he had as fine horses 
as were to be found in the county, and 
which were always at the service of 
his friends, partly from want of in- 
clination, and partly from the delicacy 
of his constitution, never shared in the 
sports of the field. Now and then, 
however, he rode to cover, to see the 
hounds throw off, and exchange greet- 
ings with a great number of his friends 
and neighbours, on such occasions col- 
lected together. This he did the 
morning after that on which he had 
visited Grilston, accompanied, at their 
earnest entreaty, by Mrs. Aubrey and 
Kate. I am not painting angels, but 
describing frail human nature ; and 
truth forces me to say, that Kate knew 
pretty well that on such occasions she 
appeared to no little advantage. I 
protest I love her not the less for it — 
but is there a beautiful woman under 
the sun who is not aware of her charms, 
and of the effect they produce upon 
our sex 1 Pooh ! I never will believe 
to the contrary. In Kate's composi- 
tion this ingredient was but an imper- 
ceptible alloy in virgin gold. Now, 
how was it that she came to think of 
this hunting appointment ? I do not 
exactly know ; but I recollect that 
when Lord De la Zouch last called at 
Yatton, he happened to mention it at 
lunch, and to say that he and one 
Geoffry Lovel Delamere but how- 
ever that may be, behold, on a bright 
Thursday morning, Aubrey and his 
two lovely companions made their 
welcome appearance at the field, all 
superbly mounted, and most cordially 
greeted by all present. Miss Aubrey 
attracted universal admiration ; but 
there was one handsome youngster, 
his well-formed figure showing to great 
advantage in his new pink and leathers, 
that made a point of challenging her 
special notice, and in doing so, attract- 
ing that of all his envious fellow-sports- 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



153 



men ; and that was Delamere. He 
seemed, indeed, infinitely more taken 
up with the little party from Yatton 
than with the serious business of the 
day. His horse, however, had an eye 
to business ; and with erected ears, 
catching the first welcome signal sooner 
than its gallant rider, sprung off like 
light, and would have left its abstracted 
rider behind, had he not been a first- 
rate seat. In fact, Kate herself was 
not quite sufficiently on her guard ; 
and her eager filly suddenly put in re- 
quisition all her rider's little strength 
and skill to rein her in — which having 
done, Kate's eye looked rather anx- 
iously after her late companion, who, 
however, had already cleared the first 
hedge, and was fast making up to the 
scattering scarlet crowd. Oh, the 
bright exhilarating scene ! 

" Heigh ho ! " said Kate, with a 
slight sigh, as soon as Delamere had 
disappeared — " I was very nearly off." 

"So was somebody else, Kate!" 
said Mrs. Aubrey, with a sly smile. 

" This is a very cool contrivance of 
yours, Kate, — bringing us here this 
morning," said her brother, rather 
gravely. 

"What do you mean, Charles?" 
she enquired, slightly reddening. He 
good-naturedly tapped her shoulder 
with his whip, laughed, urged his 
horse into a canter, and they were all 
soon on their way to General Grim's, 
an old friend of the late Mr. Aubrey's. 

The party assembled on New- Year's 
eve at Fotheringham Castle, the 
magnificent residence of Lord De la 
Zouch, was numerous and brilliant. 
The Aubreys arrived about five 
o'clock ; and on- their emerging from 
their chambers into the drawing-room, 
about half-past six — Mr. Aubrey lead- 
ing in his lovely wife and his very 
beautiful sister — they attracted general 
attention. He himself looked hand- 
some, for the brisk country air had 
brought out a glow upon his too 
frequently sallow countenance — sallow 
with the unwholesome atmosphere, 
the late hours, the wasting excitement 
of the House of Commons ; and his 
smile was cheerful, his eye bright and 
penetrating. There is nothing that 



makes such quick triumphant way in 
English society as the promise of 
speedy political distinction. It will 
supply to its happy possessor the 
want of family and fortune — it rapidly 
melts away all distinctions ; the ob- 
scure but eloquent commoner finds 
himself suddenly standing in the rare- 
fied atmosphere of privilege and ex- 
clusiveness — the familiar equal, often 
the conscious superior, of the haugh- 
tiest peer of the realm. A single 
successful speech in the House of 
Commons opens before its utterer the 
shining doors of fashion and greatness, 
as if by magic. It is as it were 
Power stepping into its palace, 
welcomed by gay crowds of eager 
obsequious expectants. Who would 
not press forward to grasp in anxious 
welcome the hand that, in a few short 
years, may dispense the glittering 
baubles sighed after by the great, and 
the more substantial patronage of 
office, which may point public opinion 
in any direction ? But, to go no 
further, what if to all this be added a 
previous position in society, such as 
that occupied by Mr. Aubrey ! There 
were several very fine women, married 
and single, in that splendid drawing- 
room ; but there were two girls, in 
very different styles of .beauty, who 
were soon allowed by all present to 
carry off the palm between them — I 
mean Miss Aubrey and Lady Caroline 
Caversham, the only daughter of the 
Marchioness of Redborough, both of 
whom were on a visit at the castle of 
some duration. Lady Caroline and 
Miss Aubrey were of about the same 
age, and dressed almost exactly alike, 
viz. in white satin ; only Lady Caro- 
line wore a brilliant diamond necklace, 
whereas Kate had chosen to wear not 
a single ornament. 

Lady Caroline was a trifle the taller, 
and had a very stately carriage. Her 
hair was black as jet — her features 
were refined and delicate ; but they 
wore a very cold, haughty expression. 
After a glance at her half-closed eyes, 
and the swan-like curve of her snowy 
neck, you unconsciously withdrew from 
her, as from an inaccessible beauty. 
The more you looked at her, the more 



154 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



she satisfied your critical scrutiny ; 
but your feelings went not out towards 
her— they were, in a manner, chilled 
and repulsed. Look, now, at our own 
Kate Aubrey — nay, never fear to place 
her beside yon supercilious divinity — 
look at her, and your heart acknow- 
ledges her loveliness ; your soul thrills 
at sight of her bewitching blue eyes — 
eyes now sparkling with excitement, 
then languishing with softness, in 
accordance with the varying emotions 
of a sensitive nature — a most sus- 
ceptible heart. How her sunny curls 
harmonize with the delicacy and rich- 
ness of her complexion ! Her figure, 
observe, is, of the two, a trifle fuller 
than her rival's — stay, don't let your 
admiring eyes settle so intently upon 
her budding form, or you will confuse 
Kate — turn away, or she will shrink 
from you like the sensitive plant ! 
Lady Caroline seems the exquisite but 
frigid production of a skilful statuary, 
who had caught a divinity in the very 
act of disdainfully setting her foot for 
the first time upon this poor earth of 
ours ; but Kate is a living and breath- 
ing beauty — as it were, fresh from the 
hand of God himself ! 

Kate was very affectionately greeted 
by Lady De la Zouch, a lofty and dig- 
nified woman of about fifty ; so also 
by Lord De la Zouch ; but when young 
Delamere welcomed her with a palpa- 
ble embarrassment of manner, a more 
brilliant colour stole into her cheek, 
and a keen observer might have noticed 
a little, rapid, undulating motion in 
her bosom, which told of some inward 
emotion. And a keen observer Kate 
at that moment had in her beautiful 
rival ; from whose cheek, as that of 
Kate deepened in its roseate bloom, 
faded away the colour entirely, leaving 
it the hue of the lily. Her drooping 
eyelids could scarcely conceal the 
glances of alarm and anger which she 
darted at her plainly successful rival 
in the affections of the future Lord De 
la Zouch. Kate was quickly aware of 
this state of matters ; and it required 
no little self-control to appear wraaware 
of it. Delamere took her down to 
dinner, and seated himself beside her, 
and paid her such pointed attentions 



as at length really distressed her ; and 
she was quite relieved when the time 
came for the ladies to withdraw. That 
she had not a secret yearning towards 
Delamere, the frequent companion of 
her early days, I cannot assert, because 
I know it would be contrary to the 
fact. Circumstances had kept him on 
the Continent for more than a year be- 
tween the period of his quitting Eton 
and going to Oxford, where another 
twelvemonth had slipped away with- 
out his visiting Yorkshire : thus two 
years had elapsed — and behold Kate 
had become a woman, and he a man ! 
They had mutual predispositions to- 
wards each other, and 'twas mere 
accident which of them first mani- 
fested symptoms of fondness for the 
other — the same result must have fol- 
lowed, namely, (to use a great word,) 
reciprocation. Lord and Lady De la 
Zouch idolized their son, and were old 
and very firm friends of the Aubrey 
family ; and, if Delamere really formed 
an attachment to one of Miss Aubrey's 
beauty, accomplishments, talent, amia- 
bility, and ancient family — why should 
he not be gratified ? Kate, whether 
she would or not, was set down to the 
piano, Lady Caroline accompanying 
her on the harp — on which she usually 
performed with mingled skill and 
grace ; but on the present occasion, 
both the fair performers found fault 
with their instruments — then with 
themselves — and presently gave up 
the attempt in despair. But when, 
at a later period of the evening, Kate's 
spirits had been a little exhilarated 
with dancing, and she sat down, at 
Lord De la Zouch's request, and gave 
that exquisite song from the Tempest, 
— "Where the bee sucks," — all the 
witchery of her voice and manner had 
returned ; and as for Delamere, he 
would have given the world to marry 
her that minute, and so for ever ex- 
tinguish the hopes of — as he imagined 
—two or three nascent competitors for 
the beautiful prize then present. 

That Kate was good as beautiful, the 
following little incident, which hap- 
pened to her on the ensuing evening, 
will show. There was a girl in the 
village at Yatton, about sixteen or 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



155 



seventeen years old, called Phoebe 
"Williams ; a very pretty girl, and 
who had spent about two years at the 
Hall as a laundry-maid, but had been 
obliged, some few months before the 
time I am speaking of, to return to 
her parents in the village, ill of a 
decline. She had been a sweet-tem- 
pered girl in her situation, and all her 
fellow-servants felt great interest in 
her, as also did Miss Aubrey. Mrs. 
Aubrey sent her daily, jellies, sago, 
and other such matters, suitable for 
the poor girl's condition ; and about a 
quarter-of-an-hour after her return 
from Fotheringham, Miss Aubrey, 
finding one of the female servants 
about to set off with some of the 
above-mentioned articles, and hearing 
that poor Phcebe was getting rapidly 
worse, instead of retiring to her room 
to undress, slipped on an additional 
shawl, and resolved to accompany the 
servant to the village. She said not a 
word to either her mother, her sister- 
in-law, or her brother ; but simply left 
word with her maid where she was 
going, and that she should quickly 
return. It was snowing smartly when 
Kate set off ; but she cared not, hur- 
ried on by the impulse of kindness, 
which led her to pay perhaps a last 
visit to the humble sufferer. She 
walked alongside of the elderly female 
servant, asking her a number of ques- 
tions about Phoebe, and her sorrowing 
father and mother. It was nearly 
dark as they quitted the Park gates, 
and snowing, if anything, faster than 
when they had left the Hall. Kate, 
wrapping her shawl still closer round 
her slender figure, and her face pretty 
well protected, by her veil, hurried on, 
and they soon reached Williams' cot- 
tage. Its humble tenants were, as 
may be imagined, not a little sur- 
prised at her appearance at such an 
hour, and in such inclement weather, 
and so apparently unattended. Poor 
Phoebe, worn to a shadow, was sitting 
opposite the fire, in a little wooden 
arm-chair, and propped up by a pil- 
low. She trembled, and her lips moved 
on seeing Miss Aubrey, who sitting 
down on a stool beside her, after lay- 
ing aside her snow-whitened shawl and 



bonnet, spoke to her in the most gentle 
and soothing strain imaginable. What 
a contrast in their two figures ! 
'Twould have been no violent stretch 
of imagination to say, that Catharine 
Aubrey at that moment looked like a 
ministering angel sent to comfort the 
wretched sufferer in her extremity. 
Phcebe's father and mother stood on 
each side of the little fireplace, gazing 
with tearful eyes upon their only 
child, soon about to depart from them 
for ever. The poor girl was indeed a 
touching object. She had been very 
pretty, but now her face was white 
and wofully emaciated — the dread 
impress of consumption was upon it. 
Her wasted fingers were clasped to- 
gether on her lap, holding between 
them a little handkerchief, with 
which, evidently with great effort, 
she occasionally wiped the dampness 
from her face. 

"You're very good, ma'am," she 
whispered, " to come to see me, and 
so late. They say it's a sad cold 
night." 

' ' I heard, Phcebe, that you were 
not so well, and I thought I would 
just step along with Margaret, who 
has brought you some more jelly. 
Did you like the last ? " 

"Y-e-s, ma'am," she replied, hesi- 
tatingly ; "but it's very hard for me 
to swallow anything now, my throat 
feels so sore." Here her mother shook 
her head and looked aside ; for the 
doctor had only that morning ex- 
plained to her the nature of the dis- 
tressing symptom which her daughter 
was alluding to — as evidencing the 
very last stage of her fatal disorder. 

"I'm very sorry to hear you say so, 
Phcebe," replied Miss Aubrey. "Do 
you think there's anything else that 
Mrs. Jackson could make for you ? " 

"No, ma'am, thank you ; I feel it's 
no use trying to swallow anything 
more." 

"While there's life," said Kate, in 
a subdued, hesitating tone, "there's 
hope — they say." Phoebe shook her 
head mournfully. " Don't stop long, 
dear lady — it's getting very late for 
you to be out alone. Father will 
go " 



156 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



"Never mind me, Phoebe — I can 
take care of myself. I hope you mind 
what good Dr. Tatham says to you ? 
You know this sickness is from God, 
Phoebe. He knows what is best for his 
creatures." 

"Thank God, ma'am, I think I feel 
resigned. I know it is God's will ; 
but I am very sorry for poor father 
and mother — they'll be so lone like 
when they don't see Phcebe about." 
Her father gazed intently at her, and 
the tears ran trickling down his cheeks ; 
her mother put her apron before her 
face, and shook her head in silent 
anguish. Miss Aubrey did not speak 
for a few moments. ' ' I see you have 
been reading the prayer-book mamma 
gave you when you were at the Hall," 
said she at length, observing the little 
volume lying open on Phoebe's lap. 

"Yes, ma'am — I was trying; but 
somehow, lately, I can't read, for 
there's a kind of mist comes over my 
eyes, and 1 can't see." 

"That's weakness, Phcebe," said 
Miss Aubrey, quickly but tremulously. 

"May I make bold, ma'am," com- 
menced Phoebe languidly, after a 
hesitating pause, "to ask you to read 
the little psalm I was trying to read a 
while ago ? I should so like to hear 
you." 

"I'll try, Phcebe," said Miss Aubrey, 
taking the book, which was open at 
the sixth psalm. 'Twas a severe trial, 
for her feelings were not a little excited 
already. But how could she refuse 
the dying girl ? So she began, a little 
indistinctly, in a very low tone, and 
with frequent pauses ; for the tears 
every now and then quite obscured 
her sight. She managed, however, to 
get as far as the sixth verse, which 
was thus : 

' ' I am weary of my groaning . every 
night wash I my bed, and water my 
couch with tears : my beauty is gone 
for very trouble." 

Here Kate's voice suddenly stopped. 
She buried her face for a moment or 
two in her handkerchief, and said 
hastily, "I can't read any more, 
Phoebe ! " Every one in the little 
room was in tears, except poor Phcebe, 
who seemed past that. 



"It's time for me to go, now, 
Phcebe. We'll send some one early 
in the morning to know how you are," 
said Miss Aubrey, rising and putting 
on her bonnet and shawl. She con- 
trived to beckon Phoebe's mother to 
the back of the room, and silently 
slipped a couple of guineas into her 
hands ; for she knew the mournful 
occasion there would soon be for such 
assistance ! She then left, peremp- 
torily declining the attendance of 
Phoebe's father — saying that it must 
be dark when she could not find the 
way to the Hall, which was almost in 
a straight line from the cottage, and 
little more than a quarter of a mile 
off. It was very much darker, and it 
still snowed, though not so thickly as 
when she had come. She and Mar- 
garet walked side by side, at a quick 
pace, talking together about poor 
Phcebe. Just as she was approaching 
the extremity of the village, nearest 
the park — 

" Ah ! my lovely gals ! " exclaimed 
a voice, in a low but most offensive 

tone — " alone ? How uncommon " 

Miss Aubrey for a moment seemed 
thunderstruck at so sudden and un- 
precedented an occurrence : then she 
hurried on with a beating heart, whis- 
pering to Margaret to keep close to her, 
and not to be alarmed. The speaker, 
however, kept pace with them. 

"Lovely gals! — wish I'd an um- 
brella, my angels ! — Take my arm ? 
Ah ! Pretty gals ! " 

"Who arc you, sir?" at length 
exclaimed Kate, spiritedly, suddenly 
stopping, and turning to the rude 
speaker. 

[Who else should it be but Tittlebat 
Titmouse!] "Who am I? Ah, ha! 
Lovely gals ! one that loves the pretty 
gals." 

" Do you know, fellow, who I am?" 
enquired Miss Aubrey indignantly, 
flinging aside her veil, and disclosing 
her beautiful face, white as death, but 
indistinctly visible in the darkness, to 
her insolent assailant. 

" No, 'pon my soul, no ; but — 
lovely gal ! lovely gal !— 'pon my life, 
spirited gal ! — do you no harm ! Take 
my arm ? " 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



157 



' ' Wretch ! ruffian ! How dare you 
insult a lady in this manner ? Do you 
know who I am ? My name, sir, is 
Aubrey — I am Miss Aubrey of the 
Hall ! Do not think " 

Titmouse felt as if he were on the 
point of dropping down dead at that 
moment, with amazement and terror ; 
and when Miss Aubrey's servant 
screamed out at the top of her voice, 
" Help ! — help, there ! " Titmouse, 
without uttering a syllable more, took 
to his heels, just as the door of a cot- 
tage, at only a few yards' distance, 
opened, and out rushed a strapping 
farmer, shouting — "Hey! what be 
t'matter 1 " You may guess his as- 
tonishment on discovering Miss Au- 
brey, and his fury at learning the 
cause of her alarm. Out of doors he 
pelted, without his hat, uttering a 
volley of fearful imprecations, and 
calling on the unseen miscreant to 
come forward ; for whom it was lucky 
that he had time to escape from a pair 
of fists that in a minute or two would 
have beaten his little carcass into a 
jelly ! Miss Aubrey was so overcome 
by the shock she had suffered, that 
but for a glass of water she might 
have fainted. As soon as she had 
a little recovered from her agitation, 
she set off home, accompanied by 
Margaret, and followed very closely 
by the farmer, with a tremendous 
knotted stick under his arm — (he 
wanted to have taken his double- 
barrelled gun) — and thus she soon 
reached the Hall, not a little tired 
and agitated. This little incident, 
however, she kept to herself, and en- 
joined her two attendants to do the 
same ; for she knew the distress it 
would have occasioned those whom 
she loved. As it was, she was some- 
what sharply rebuked by her mother 
and brother, who had just sent two 
men out in quest of her, and whom it 
was singular that she should have 
missed. This is not the place to give 
an account of the eccentric movements 
of our friend Titmouse ; still there can 
be no harm in my just mentioning that 
the si^ht of Miss Aubrey on horseback 
had half maddened the little fool ; her 
image had never been effaced from 



his memory since the occasion on 
which, as already explained, he had 
first seen her ; and as soon as he had 
ascertained, through Snap's enquiries, 
who she was, he became more frenzied 
in the matter than before, because he 
thought he now saw a probability of 
obtaining her. " If like children," 
says Edmund Burke, "we will cry for 
the moon, why like children we must 
— cry on." "Whether this was not some- 
thing like the position of Mr. Tittlebat 
Titmouse, in his passion for Catha- 
rine Aubrey, the. reader can judge. 
He had unbosomed himself in the 
matter to his confidential adviser Mr. 
Snap ; who, having accomplished his 
errand, had the day before returned 
to town, very much against his will, 
leaving Titmouse behind him, to bring 
about, by his own delicate and skilful 
management, a union between himself, 
as the future lord of Yatton, and the 
beautiful sister of its present occupant. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Mr. Aubrey and Kate were sitting 
together playing at chess, about eight 
o'clock in the evening ; Dr. Tatham 
and Mrs. Aubrey, junior, looking on 
with much interest ; old Mrs. Aubrey 
being busily engaged writing. Mr. 
Aubrey was sadly an overmatch for 
poor Kate — he being in fact a first- 
rate player ; and her soft white hand 
had been hovering over the half- 
dozen chessmen she had left, uncertain 
which of them to move, for nearly 
two minutes, her chin resting on the 
other hand, and her face wearing a 
very puzzled expression. "Come, 
Kate," said every now and then her 
brother, with that calm victorious 
smile which at such a moment would 
have tried any but so sweet a temper 
as his sister's. "If I were you, 
Miss Aubrey," was perpetually ex- 
claiming Dr. Tatham, knowing as 
much about the game the while as the 
little Marlborough spaniel lying asleep 
at Miss Aubrey's feet. "Oh dear!" 



158 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



said Kate, at length, with a sigh, " I 
really don't see how to escape " 

"Who can that be?" exclaimed 
Mrs. Aubrey, looking up and listening 
to the sound of carriage wheels. 

"Never mind," said her husband, 
who was interested in the game — 
"come, come, Kate." A few minutes 
afterwards a servant made his appear- 
ance, and coming up to Mr. Aubrey, 
told him that Mr. Parkinson and 
another gentleman had called, and 
were waiting in the library to speak 
to him on business. 

' ' What can they want at this hour ? ' ' 
exclaimed Mr. Aubrey absently, in- 
tently watching an expected move of 
his sister's, which would have decided 
the game. At length she made her 
long-meditated descent, in quite an 
unexpected quarter. 

" Checkmate ! " she exclaimed with 
infinite glee. 

"Ah!" cried he, rising, with a 
slightly surprised and chagrined air, 
"I'm ruined! Now, try your hand 
on the doctor, while I go and speak 
to these people. I wonder what can 
possibly have brought them here. Oh, 
I see — I see ; 'tis probably about Miss 
Evelyn's marriage-settlement — I'm to 
be one of her trustees." With this he 
left the room, and presently entered 
the library, where were two gentle- 
men, one of whom, a stranger, was 
in the act of pulling off his great- 
coat. It was Mr. Runnington ; a tall, 
thin, elderly man, with short grey hair 
— his countenance bespeaking the calm, 
acute, clear-headed man of business. 
The other was Mr. Parkinson ; a plain, 
substantial- looking, hard-headed coun- 
try attorney. 

"Mr. Runnington, my London 
agent, sir," said he to Mr. Aubrey, 
as the latter entered. Mr. Aubrey 
bowed. 

"Pray, gentlemen, be seated," he 
replied with his usual urbanity of 
manner, taking a chair beside them. 

' ' Why, Mr. Parkinson, you look 
very serious — both of you. What 
is the matter I " he enquired sur- 
prisedly. 

" Mr. Runnington, sir, has arrived, 
most unexpectedly to me," replied Mr. 



Parkinson, " only an hour or two ago, 
from London, on business of the last 
importance to you." 

"Tome. ! — well, what is it ? Pray, 
say at once what it Is — I am all atten- 
tion," said Mr. Aubrey anxiously. 

" Do you happen," commenced Mr. 
Parkinson very nervously, "to re- 
member sending Waters to me on 
Monday or Tuesday last, with a paper 
which had been served by some one 
on old Jolter?" 

"Certainly," replied Mr. Aubrey, 
after a moment's consideration. 

"Mr. Runnington's errand is con- 
nected with that document, " said Mr. 
Parkinson, and paused. 

" Indeed ! " exclaimed Mr. Aubrey, 
apparently a little relieved. ' ' I assure 
you, gentlemen, you very greatly over- 
estimate the importance I attach to 
anything that such a troublesome 
person as Mr. Tomkins can do, if I 
am right in supposing that it is he 
who- Well, then, what is the mat- 
ter V he enquired quickly, observing 
Mr. Parkinson shake his head, and in- 
terchange a grave look with Mr. Run- 
nington ; "you cannot think, Mr. 
Parkinson, how you will oblige me 
by being explicit." 

" This paper," said Mr. Runnington, 
holding up that which Mr. Aubrey at 
once recollected as the one on which 
he had cast his eye on its being handed 
to him by Waters, "is a Declaration 
in Ejectment, with which Mr. Tom- 
kins has nothing whatever to do. It 
is served virtually on you, and you are 
the real defendant." 

" So I apprehend I was in the former 
trumpery action." 

"Do you recollect, Mr. Aubrey," 
said Mr. Parkinson, with a trepidation 
which he could not conceal, "several 
years ago, some serious conversation 
which you and I had together on the 
state of your title — when I was pre- 
paring your marriage-settlements ? " 

Mr. Aubrey started, and his face 
was suddenly blanched. 

"The matters we then discussed 
have suddenly acquired fearful 'im- 
portance. This paper occasions us, 
on your account, the profoundest 
anxiety. "Mr. Aubrey continued silent, 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



159 



gazing on Mr. Parkinson with intensity. 
' ' Supposing, from a hasty glance at 
it, and from the message accompanying 
it, that it was merely another action 
of Tomkins's about the slip of waste 
land attached to Jolter's cottage, I 
sent up to London to my agents, 
Messrs. Runnington, requesting them 
to call on the plaintiffs attorneys, and 
settle the action. He did so ; and — 
perhaps you will explain the rest, " said 
Mr. Parkinson to Mr. Runnington. 

"Certainly," said that gentleman 
with a serious air, but much more 
calmly and firmly than Mr. Parkinson ; 
" I called accordingly, early yesterday 
morning, on Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap — they are a very well — but 
not enviably — known firm in the pro- 
fession ; and in a very few minutes 
my misconception of the nature of the 
business I had called to settle was 

set right. In short " he paused, 

as if distressed at the intelligence he 
was about to communicate. 

" Oh, pray, pray go on, sir," said 
Mr. Aubrey in a low tone. 

" I am no stranger, sir, to your 
firmness of character ; but I shall 
have to tax it, I fear, to its uttermost. 
To come at once to the point — they 
told me that I might undoubtedly 
settle the matter, if you would consent 
to give up immediate possession of the 
whole Yatton estate, and account for 
the mesne profits to their client, the 
right heir — as they contend — a Mr. 
Tittlebat Titmouse." Mr. Aubrey 
leaned back in his chair, overcome, 
for an instant, by this astounding in- 
telligence ; and all three of them pre- 
served silence for more than a minute. 
Mr. Runnington was a man of a very 
feeling heart. In the course of his 
great practice he had had to encounter 
many distressing scenes ; but probably 
none of them had equalled that in 
which, at the earnest entreaty of Mr. 
Parkinson, who distrusted his own 
self- possession, he now bore a leading 
part. The two attorneys interchanged 
frequent looks of deep sympathy for 
their unfortunate client, who seemed 
as if stunned by the intelligence they 
had brought him. 

" I felt it my duty to lose not an 



instant in coming down to Yatton," 
resumed Mr. Runnington, observing 
Mr. Aubrey's eye again directed en- 
quiringly towards him ; "for Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap are very 
dangerous people to deal with, and 
must be encountered promptly, and 
with the greatest possible caution. 
The moment that I had left them, I 
hastened to the Temple, to retain for 
you Mr. Subtle, the leader of the 
Northern Circuit ; but they had been 
beforehand with me, and retained him 
nearly three months ago, together with 
another eminent king's counsel on the 
circuit. Under these circumstances, I 
lost no time in giving a special retainer 
to the Attorney-General, in which I 
trust I have done right, and in retain- 
ing as junior a gentleman whom I 
consider to be incomparably the ablest 
and most experienced lawyer on the 
circuit." I 

' ' Did they say anything concerning 
the nature of their client's title ? ' 
enquired Mr. Aubrey, after some 
expressions of amazement and dis- 
may. ! 

" Very little — I might say, nothing. 
If they had been never so precise, of 
course I should have distrusted every 
word they said. They certainly men- 
tioned that they had had the first 
conveyancing opinions in the kingdom, 
which concurred in favour of their 
client ; that they had been for months 
prepared at all points, and accident 
only had delayed their commencing 
proceedings till now." 

"Did you make any enquiries as to 
who the claimant was ? " enquired Mr. 
Aubrey. \ 

"Yes; but all I could learn was, 
that they had discovered him by mere 
accident ; and that he was at present 
in very obscure and distressed circum- 
stances. I tried to discover by what 
means they proposed to commence and 
carry on so expensive a contest ; but 
they smiled significantly, and were 
silent." Another long pause ensued, 
during which Mr. Aubrey was evi- 
dently silently struggling with very 
agitating emotions. 

"What is the meaning of their 
affecting to seek the recovery of only 



160 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



one insignificant portion of the pro- 
perty ? " he enquired. 

" It is their own choice — it may be 
from considerations of mere conveni- 
ence. The title, however, by which 
they may succeed in recovering what 
they at present go for, will avail to 
recover every acre of the estate, and 
the present action will consequently 
decide everything ! " 

"And suppose the worst — that they 
are successful," said Mr. Aubrey, after 
they had conversed a good deal, and 
very anxiously, on the subject of a 
presumed infirmity in Mr. Aubrey's 
title, which had been pointed out to 
him in general terms by Mr. Parkinson, 
on the occasion already adverted to — 
"what is to be said about the rental 
which I have been receiving all this 
time — ten thousand a-year ? " enquired 
Mr. Aubrey, looking as if he dreaded 
to hear his question answered. 

" Oh ! that's quite an after con- 
sideration — let us first fight the 
battle." 

" I beg, Mr. Eunnington, that you 
will withhold nothing from me," said 
Mr. Aubrey. " To what extent shall 
I be liable ? " 

Mr. Eunnington paused. 

" I am afraid that all the mesne 
profits, as they are called, which you 
have received " — commenced Mr. 
Parkinson 

"No, no," interrupted Mr. Eun- 
nington; "I have been turning that 
matter over in my mind, and I think 
that the statute of limitations will bar 
aU but the last six years " 

"Why, that will be sixty thousand 
pounds ! " interrupted Mr. Aubrey, 
with a look of sudden despair. 
"Gracious Heavens, that is perfectly 
frightful !— frightful ! If I lose Yat- 
ton, I shall not have a place to put 
my head in — not one farthing to sup- 
port myself with ! And yet to have 
to make up sixty thousand pounds ! " 
The perspiration stood upon his fore- 
head, and his eye was laden with 
alarm and agony. He slowly rose from 
his chair and bolted the door, that they 
might not, at such an agitating mo- 
ment, be surprised or disturbed by any 
of the servants or the family. 



" I suppose," said he in a faint and 
tremulous tone, "that if this claim 
succeed, my mother also will share 
my fate " 

They shook their heads in silence. 

"Permit me to suggest, " said Mr. 
Eunnington, in a tone of the most 
respectful sympathy, "that sufficient 
for the day is the evil thereof." 

"But the night follows ! " said Mr. 
Aubrey, with a visible tremor ; and 
his voice made the hearts of his com- 
panions thrill within them. " I have 
a frightful misgiving as to the issue of 
these proceedings ! I ought not to 
have neglected the matter pointed out 
to me by Mr. Parkinson on my mar- 
riage. I feel as if I had been culpably 
lying by ever since. But I really did 
not attach to it the importance it de- 
served : I never, indeed, distinctly 
appreciated the nature of what was 
then pointed out to me ! " 

" A thousand pities that a fine was 
not levied, is it not ? " said Mr. 
Eunnington. 

"Ay, indeed it is!" replied Mr. 
Parkinson with a sigh, and they spoke 
together for some time, and very 
earnestly, concerning the nature and 
efficacy of such a measure, which they 
explained to Mr. Aubrey. 

" It comes to this," said he, " that 
in all probability, I and my family are 
at this moment" — he shuddered — 
" trespassers at Yatton ! " 

"That, Mr. Aubrey," said Mr. 
Parkinson earnestly, "remains to be 
proved ! We really are getting on far 
too fast. One would think that the 
jury had already returned a verdict 
against us — that judgment had been 
signed — and that the sheriff was coming 
in the morning to execute the writ of 
possession in favour of our opponent." 
This was well meant by the speaker ; 
but surely it was like talking of the 
machinery of the ghastly guillotine to 
the wretch in shivering expectation of 
suffering by it on the morrow. An 
involuntary shudder ran through Mr. 
Aubrey. " Sixty thousand pounds ! " 
he exclaimed, rising and walking to 
and fro. " Why, I am ruined beyond 
all redemption ! How can I ever 
satisfy it ? " Again he paced the 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



It! J. 



room several times, in silent agon) 7 . 
Presently he resumed his seat. "I 
have, for these several days past, had 
a strange sense of impending calamity," 
said he, more calmly — " I have been 
equally unable to account for, or get 
rid of it. It may be an intimation 
from Heaven ; 1 bow to its will ! " 

"We must remember," said Mr. 
Runnington, "that 'possession is ninc- 
tcnths of the laiv ; ' which means, that 
your mere possession will entitle you 
to retain it against all the world, till 
a stronger title than yours to the right 
of possession be made out. You stand 
on a mountain ; and it is for your 
adversary to displace you, not by 
showing merely that you have no real 
title, but that he has. If he could 
prove all your title-deeds to be merely 
waste paper — that in fact you have no 
more title than I have — he would not 
by stopping there advance his own 
case an inch ; he must first establish 
in himself a clear and independent 
title ; so that you are entirely on the 
defensive ; and rely upon it, that 
though never so many screws may be 
loose, so acute and profound a lawyer 
as the Attorney-General will impose 
every difficulty on " 

"Nay, but God forbid that any 
unconscientious advantage should be 
taken on my behalf ! " said Mr. Aubrey. 
Mr. Runnington and Mr. Parkinson 
both opened their eyes pretty wide at 
this sally : the latter could not under- 
stand but that everything was fair in 
war ; the former saw and appreciated 
the nobility of soul which had dictated 
the exclamation. 

" I suppose the affair will soon be- 
come public," said Mr. Aubrey, with 
an air of profound depression, after 
much further conversation. 

' ' Your position in the county, your 
eminence in public life, the singularity 
of the case, and the magnitude of the 
stake — all are circumstances undoubt- 
edly calculated soon to urge the affair 
before the notice of the public," said 
Mr. Runnington. 

""What disastrous intelligence to 
break to my family ! " exclaimed Mr. 
Aubrey tremulously. "With what 
fearful suddenness it has burst upon 



us ! But something, I suppose," he 
presently added with forced calmness, 
"must be done immediately ? " 

"Undoubtedly," replied Mr. Run- 
nington. "Mr. Parkinson and I will 
immediately proceed to examine your 
title-deeds, the greater portion of which 
are, I understand, here in the Hall, 
and the rest at Mr. Parkinson's ; and 
prepare, without delay, a case for the 
opinion of the Attorney-General, and 
also of the most eminent conveyancers 
of the kingdom. Who, by the way," 
said Mr. Runnington, addressing Mr. 
Parkinson — "who was the convey- 
ancer that had the abstracts before 
him, on preparing Mr. Aubrey's mar- 
riage-settlement ? " 

"Oh, you are alluding to the 
' Opinion ' I mentioned to you this 
evening?" enquired Mr. Parkinson. 
" I have it at my house, and will show 
it you in the morning. The doubt he 
expressed on one or two points gave 
me, I recollect, no little uneasiness — 
as you may remember, Mr. Aubrey." 

" I certainly do," he replied, with a 
profound sigh; "but though what 
you said reminded me of something or 
another that I had heard when a mere 
boy, I thought no more of it. I think 
you also told me that the gentleman 
who wrote the opinion was a nervous 
fidgety man, always raising difficulties 
in his clients' titles — and one way or 
another, the thing never gave me any 
concern — scarcely ever even occurred 
to my thoughts, till to-day ! What 
infatuation has been mine ! But you 
will take a little refreshment, gentle- 
men, after your journey?" said Mr. 
Aubrey suddenly, glad of the oppor- 
tunity it would afford him of reviving 
his own exhausted spirits by a cup of 
wine, before returning to the drawing- 
room. He swallowed several glasses 
of wine without any immediately per- 
ceptible effect ; and the bearers of the 
direful intelligence just communicated 
to the reader, after a promise by Mr. 
Aubrey to drive over to Grilston early 
in the morning, and bring with him 
such of his title-deeds as were then at 
the Hall, took their departure ; leaving 
him outwardly calmer, but with a 
fearful oppression at his heart. He 

M 



162 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



made a powerful effort to control his 
feelings, so as to conceal, for a while 
at least, the dreadful occurrence of the 
evening. His face, however, on re- 
entering ' the drawing-room, which his 
mother, attended by Kate, had quitted 
for her bed-room, somewhat alarmed 
Mrs. Aubrey ; whom, however, he at 
once quieted, by saying that he cer- 
tainly had been annoyed — " excessively 
aDnoyed" — at a communication just 
made to him ; "and which might, in 
fact, prevent his sitting again for Yat- 
ton. " "Oh, that's the cause of your 
long stay ? There, Doctor, am I not 
right % " said Mrs. Aubrey, appealing 
to Dr. Tatham. "Did I not tell you 
that this was something connected with 
politics ? Charles, I do hate politics 
-give mc a quiet home ! " A pang 



these, as well as on many others which 
were in Mr. Parkinson's custody, tnat 
gentleman and Mr. Runnington were 
anxiously engaged during almost every 
minute of tnat day and the ensuing 
one ; at the close of which, they had 
between them drawn' up the rough 
draft of a case, with which Mr. Kun- 
nington set off for town by the mail; 
undertaking to lay it immediately 
before the Attorney-General, and also 
before one or two of the greatest con- 
veyancers of the day, commended to 
their best and earliest attention. He 
pledged himself to transmit their 
opinions, by the very first mail, to 
Mr. Parkinson ; and both those gentle- 
men immediately set about active pre- 
parations for defending the ejectment. 
The "eminent conveyancer" fixed 



shot through Mr. Aubrey's heart ; but Upon by Messrs. Kunnington and Park 



he felt that he had, for the present, 
succeeded in his object. 

Mr. Aubrey's distracted mind was 
indeed, as it were, buffeted about that 
night on a dark sea of trouble ; while 
the beloved being beside him lay sleep- 
ing peacefully, all unconscious of the 
rising storm. Many times, during 
that dismal night, would ho have risen 
from his bid to seek a momentary 
relief by walking to and fro, but that 
lie feared dist urbing her, and disclosing 
the extent and depths of his distress. 
It was nearly five o'clock in the morn- 
ing before he at Ingth sunk into sleep ; 
and of one thing I can assure the 
reader, that however that excellent 
man might have shrunk- — and shrink 
he did — from the sufferings 1 lint seemed 
in store for him, and those who wero 
far dearer to him than life itself, ho 
did not give way to one repining or 
rebellious thought. On the contrary, 
his real frame of mind, on that trying 
occasion, may be discovered in one 
short prayer, which he more than once 
was on the point of expressing aloud 
in words — " Oh my God ! in my pros- 
perity I have ever acknowledged thee ; 
forsake me not in my adversity ! " 

At an early hour in the morning his 
carriage drew up at Mr. Parkinson's 
door ; and he brought with him, as he 
had promised, a great number of title- 
deeds and family documents. On. 



inson was Mr. Tresayle, whose clerk, 
however, on looking into the papers, 
presently carried them hack to Messrs. 
Kunnington, with the startling inform- 
ation that Mr. Tresayle had, a few 
months ago, "advised on the other 
side." The next person whom Mr. 
Kunnington thought of, was — singu- 
larly enough — Mr. Mortmain, who, on 
account of his eminence, was occasion- 
ally employed, in heavy matters, by 
the firm. His clerk, also, on the 
ensuing morning returned the papers, 
assigning a similar reason to that which 
had been given by Mr. Tresayle's clerk ! 
All this formed a sad corroboration, 
truly, of Messrs. Quirk and Gammon's 
assurance to Mr. Runiiington, that 
they had "had the first conveyancing 
opinions in the kingdom ; " and evi- 
denced the formidable scale on which 
their operations were being conducted. 
There were, however, other "eminent 
conveyancers " besides the two above 
mentioned : and in the hands of Mr. 
Mansfield, who, with a less extended 
reputation, but an equal practice, was 
a far abler man, and a much higher 
style of conveyancer than Mr. Mort- 
main, Mr. Kunnington left his client's 
interests' with ' ' 
Not satisfied 



interests- with the utmost confidence. 



with this, lie ] a ;fl 



the 



whom he had aWf^^™?' 
eause-a man whose Ine^ZlLTaS 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



163 



inj? was not ill indicated by his name. 
Though his maimer in court was not 
particularly forcible or attractive, he 
was an invaluable aci(uisition in an 
important cause. To law he had for 
some twenty years applied himself with 
unwearying energy ; and he conse- 
quently became a ready, accurate, and 
thorough lawyer, equal to all the 
practical exigencies of his profession. 
He brought his knowledge to bear on 
every point presented to him with 
beautiful precision. He was equally 
quick and cautious — artful to a degree 
— But I shall have other opportunities 
of describing him ; since on him, as on 
every working junior, will devolve the 
real conduct of the defendant's case in 
the memorable action of Doe on the 
demise of Titmouse v. Roe. 

As Mr. Aubrey was driving home 
from the visit to Mr. Parkinson which I 
have just above mentioned, he stopped 
his carriage on entering the village, 
because he saw Dr. Tatham coming 
out of Williams's cottage, where he 
had been paying a visit to poor dying 
Phoebe. 

The little Doctor was plunthering 
en, ankle-deep in snow, towards the 
vi?arage, when Mr. Aubrey (who had 
sent home his carriage with word that 
he should presently follow) came up 
with him, and greeting him with 
unusual fervour, said that he would 
accompany him to the vicarage. 

" You are in very great trouble, my 
dear friend," said the Doctor seriously 
— " I saw it plainly last night ; but of 
course I said nothing. Come in with 
me ! Let us talk freely with one an- 
other ; for, as iron sharpeneth iron, so 
doth the countenance of a man his 
friend. Is it not so ? " 

"It is indeed, my dear Doctor," 
replied Mr. Aubrey, suddenly softened 
by the affectionate simplicity of the 
Doctor's manner. How much the good 
Doctor was shocked by the communi- 
cation which Mr. Aubrey presently 
made to him, the reader may easily 
imagine. He even shed tears, on be- 
holding the forced calmness with which 
Mr. Aubrey depicted the gloomy pros- 
pect that was before him. 'Twas not 
in vain, however, that the pious and 



venerable pastor led the subdued and 
willing mind of his beloved companion 
to those sources of consolation and 
support which a true Christian cannot 
approach in vain. Upon his bruised 
and bleeding feelings were poured the 
balm of true religious consolation ; and 
Mr. Aubrey quitted his revered com- 
panion with a far firmer tone of mind 
than that with which he had entered 
the vicarage. But when he passed 
through the park gates, the sudden 
reflection that he was probably no 
longer the proprietor of the dear old 
familiar objects that met his eye at 
every step, almost overpowered him. 

On entering the Hall, he was in- 
formed that one of the tenants, Peter 
Johnson, had been sitting in the ser- 
vants' hall for nearly two hours, waiting 
to see him. Mr. Aubrey repaired at 
once to the library, and desired the 
man to be shown in. This Johnson 
had been for some twenty-five years a 
tenant of a considerable farm on the 
estate, had scarcely ever been a few 
weeks behindhand with his rent, and 
had always been considered one of the 
most exemplary persons in the whole 
neighbourhood. He had now, . poor 
fellow, got into trouble indeed, for he 
had, a year or two before, been per- 
suaded to become security for his 
brother-in-law, a tax-collector ; and 
had, alas ! the day before, been called 
upon to pay the three hundred pounds 
in which he stood bound — his worth- 
less brother-in-law having absconded 
with nearly £1000 of the public money. 
Poor Johnson, who had a large family 
to support, was in deep tribulation, 
bowed down with grief and shame; 
and after a sleepless night, had at 
length ventured down to Yatton, and 
with a desperate boldness asked the 
benevolent squire to advance him £200 
towards the money, to save himself 
from being cast into prison. Mr. Au- 
brey heard his sad story to the end with- 
out one single interruption ; though to 
a more practised observer than the 
troubled old farmer, the workings of 
his countenance, from time to time, 
must have told his inward agitation. 
" I lend this poor soul £200 ! "thought 
he, "who am penniless myself ! Shall 
M 2 



1 *? < 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



I not be really acting as his dishonest I About a week afterwards, namely, 
relative has been acting, and making on the 12th of January, arrived, lirae 
free with money that belongs to Charles's birthday, when he became nve 

another V \ Y ears old i aud Kate had /° r S ?w J l 

" I assure you, my worthy friend," been moving heaven and eaitn to get 

said he at length, with a little agitation up a children's party in honour ot^tne 

of manner, " that I have just now a | occasion. After considerable 



very serious call upon me — or you 
know how gladly I would have com- 
plied with your request." 

' ' Oh, sir, have mercy on me ! I've 
an ailing wife and seven children to 
support," said poor Johnson, wringing 
his hands. 

" Can't I do anything with the 

Government % " 

" No, sir ; I'm told they're so mighty 
angry with my rascally brother, they'll 
listen to nobody ! It's a hard matter 
for me to keep things straight at home 
without this, sir, I've so many mouths 
to fill ; and if they take me off to 
prison, Lord ! Lord ! what's to become 
of us all ? " 

Mr. Aubrey's lip quivered. John- 
son fell on hi.s knees, and the tears ran 
down his cheeks. " I've never asked a 
living man for money before, sir ; and 
if you'll only lend it me, God Almighty 
will bless you and yours ; you'll save 
us all from ruin; I'll wink day and 
night to pay it back again ! " 

" Kisi — rise, Johnson," said Mr. 
Aubrey with emotion. " You shall 
have the money, my friend, if you 
will rail tii-inorriiw," he added with a 
deep sigh, after a moment's hesitation. 
He was as good as his word. 
Had Mr. Aubrey been naturally of a 
cluvrful and vivueions turn, the con- 
trast now afforded livhis glo.nuy man- 
lier must have alarmed his family. As 
it was, however, it was not so strong 
and marked as to be attended with 
that effect, especially as he exerted 
himself to the utmost to conceal his 
distress. That something had gone 
wrong, he freely acknowledged ; and 
as he spoke of it always in connexion 
with political topics, he succeeded in 
parrying their questions, and checking 
suspicion. But, whenever they were 
all collected together, could he not 
justly compare them to a happy group, 
unconscious that they stood on a mine 
which was about to be fired ? 



riding 
and driving about, she succeeded in 
persuading the parents of some eight 
or ten children— two little daughters, 
for instance, of the Earl of Oldacre 
(beautiful creatures they were, to . be 
sur e) — little Master and the two Miss 
Bertons, the children of one of the 
county members— Sir Harry Oldfield, 
an orphan of about live years of age, 
the infant possessor of a magnificent 
estate — and two or three little girls 
beside — to send them all to Yatton for 
a day and a night, with their govern- 
esses and attendants. 

'Twas a charming little affair. It 
went off brilliantly, as the phrase is, 
and repaid all Kate's exertions. She, 
her mother, and brother and sister, all 
dined at the same table, at a very early 
hour, with the merry little guests, who 
(with a laughable crowd of attendants 
behind them, to be sure) behaved re- 
markably well on the occasion. Sir 
Harry (a little thing about Charles's 
age— the black riband round his waist, 
and also the half-mourning dress worn 
by his maid, who stood behind him, 
showed how recent was the event which 
had made him an orphan) proposed 
little Aubrey's health, in (I must own) 
a somewhat stiff speech, demurely 
dictated to him by Kate, (who sat 
between him and her beautiful little 
nephew.) She then performed the 
same office for Charles, who stood on 
a chair while delivering his eloquent 
acknowledgment of the toast. 

[Oh ! that anguished brow of thine, 
Aubrey, (thank God it is unobserved !) 
but it tells me that the iron is entering 
thy soul !] 

And the moment that he had done 
—Kate folding her arms around him 
and kissing him — down they all 
r!3 ff-fl' % me -' ry thr °ng, scam- 



bands and wives, and div^ ^'^f 
games, kept themfn r Vers ° th er little 
ln constant enjoy- 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



165 



ment. After tea they were to have 
dancing — Kate mistress of the cere- 
monies — and it was quite laughable to 
see how perpetually she was foiled in 
her efforts to form the. little sets. The 
girls were orderly enough — but their 
wild little partners were quite uncon- 
trollable. The instant they were 
] laced, and Kate had gone to the 
instrument and struck oft' a note or 
two — heigh ! — there was a scrambling 
little crowd, jump'ng and laughing, 
and chattering and singing ! Over 
and over again she formed them into 
sets, with the like results. But at 
length a young lady, one of their 
governesses, took Miss Aubrey's place 
at the piano, leaving the latter to 
superintend the performances in per- 
son. She at length succeeded in 
getting up something like a country- 
dance, led off by Charles and little 
Lady Anne Cherville, the eldest 
daughter of the Earl of Oldacre, a 
beautiful child of about five years old, 
and who, judging from appearances, 
bade fair, in due time, to become 
another Lady Caroline Caversham. 
You would have laughed outright to 
watch the coquettish airs which this 
little creature gave herself with Charles, 
whom yet she evidently could not bear 
to see dancing with another. 

" Now I shall dance with somebody 
else ! " he exclaimed, suddenly letting 
go Lady Anne, and snatching hold of 
a sweet little thing, Miss Berton, that 
was standing modestly beside him. 
The discarded beauty walked with a 
stately air, and a swelling heart, to- 
wards Mrs. Aubrey, who sat beside her 
husband on the sofa ; and on reaching 
her, she stood for a few moments 
silently watching her late partner 
busily and gaily engaged with her 
successor — and then burst into tears. 

' ' Charles ! " called out Mrs. Aubrey ; 
who had watched the whole affair, and 
could hardly keep her countenance — 
" come here directly, Charles." 

"Yes, mamma!" he exclaimed — 
quite unaware of the serious aspect 
which things were assuming — • and 
without quitting the dance, where he 
was (as his jealous mistress too plainly 
saw, for, despite her grief, her eye 



1 seemed to follow all his motions) 
skipping about with infinite glee with 
a third partner — a laughing sister of 
his last partner. 

" Come here, Charles," said Mr. 
Aubrey ; and in an instant his little 
son, all flushed and breathless, was at 
his side. 

"Well, dear papa ! " said he, keep- 
ing his eye fixed on the little throng 
he had just quitted, and where his 
deserted partner was skipping about 
alone. 

" What have you been doing to 
Lady Anne, Charles ? " said his father. 

"Nothing, dear papa ! " he replied, 
still wistfully eyeing the dancers. 

"You know you left me, and went 
to dance with Miss Berton ; you did, 
Charles ! " said the offended beauty. 

"That is not behaving like a little 
gentleman, Charles," said his father. 
The tears came into the child's eyes. 

"I'm very sorry, dear papa, I will 
dance with her" — 

"No, not now," said Lady Anne 
haughtily. 

"Oh, pooh! pooh! — kiss and be 
friends," said Mrs. Aubrey, laughing, 
"and go and dance as prettily as you 
were doing before." Little Aubrey 
put his arms round Lady Anne, kissed 
her, and away they both started to the 
dance again. While the latter part of 
this scene was going on, Mr. Aubrey's 
eye caught the figure of a servant who 
simply made his appearance at the 
door and then retired, (for such had 
been Mr. Aubrey's orders, in the 
event of any messenger coming from 
Grilston.) Hastily whispering that 
he should return soon, he left the 
room. In the hall stood a clerk from 
Mr. Parkinson ; and on seeing Mr. 
Aubrey, he took out a packet and 
retired — Mr. Aubrey, with evident 
trepidation, repairing to his library. 
With a nervous hand he broke the 
seal, and found the following letter 
from Mr. Parkinson, with three other 
inclosures : — 

"Grilston, \2th Jan. 18—. 
"My dear Sir, 

"I have only just received, and at 
once forward to you, copies of the 



166 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



three opinions given by the Attorney- 
General, Mr. Mansfield, and Mr. 
Crystal. I lament to find that they 
are all of a discouraging character. 
They are quite independent of each 
other, having been laid before their 
respective writers at the same moment ; 
yet you will observe that all three of 
them have hit upon precisely the same 
point, viz. that the descendants of 
Geoffry Dreddlington had no right to 
succeed to the inheritance till there 
was a failure of the heirs of Stephen 
Dreddlington. If, therefore, our op- 
ponents have contrived to ferret out 
any one who satisfies that designation, 
(I cannot conjecture how they can 
ever have got upon the scent,) I really 
fear we must prepare for a very serious 
struggle. I have been quietly push- 
ing my enquiries in all directions, with 
a view to obtaining a clue to the case 
intended to be set up against us, and 
which you will find very shrewdly 
guessed at by the Attorney-General. 
Nor am I the only party, I find, in the 
field, who has been making pointed 
enquiries in your neighbourhood ; but 
of this more when we meet to-morrow. 
" I. remain, 

" Yours very respectfully, 
"J. Parkinson. 
"Charles Aubrey, Esq., M.P." 

Having read this letter, Mr. Aubrey 
sunk back in his chair, and remained 
motionless for more than a quarter of 
an hour. At length he roused himself 
and read over the opinions ; the effect 
of which — as far as he could compre- 
hend their technicalities — he found 
had been but too correctly given by 
Mr. Parkinson. Some suggestions 
and enquiries put by the acute and 
experienced Mr. Crystal, suddenly 
revived recollections of one or two 
incidents even of his boyish days, 
long forgotten, but which, as he re- 
flected upon them, began to reappear 
to his mind's eye with sickening dis- 
tinctness. Wave after wave of appre- 
hension and agony passed over him, 
chilling and benumbing his heart 
within him ; so that, when his little 
son came some time afterwards run- 
. ing up to him, with a message from 



his mamma, that she hoped he could 
come back to see them all play ' at 
snapdragon before they went to bed, 
he answered him mechanically, hardly 
seeming sensible even of his presence. 
At length, with a groan that came 
from the depths of his heart, he rose 
and walked to and fro r sensible of the 
necessity of exerting himself, and pre- 
paring himself, in some degree, for 
encountering his mother, his wife, and 
his sister. Taking up his candle, he 
hastened to his dressing-room, where 
he hoped, by the aid of refreshing 
ablutions, to succeed in effacing at 
least the stronger of those traces of 
suffering which his glass displayed to 
him, as it reflected the image of his 
agitated countenance. A sudden re- 
collection of the critical and delicate 
situation of his idolized wife, glanced 
through his heart like a keen arrow. 
He sunk upon the sofa, and, clasping 
his hands, looked indeed forlorn. Pre- 
sently the door was pushed hastily but 
gently open ; and, first looking in to 
see that it was really he of whom she 
was in search, in rushed Mrs. Aubrey, 
pale and agitated, having been alarmed 
by his long-continued absence from 
the drawing-room, and the look of the 
servant, from whom she had learned 
that his master had been for some 
time gone up-stairs. 

"Charles! my love! my sweet 
love ! " she exclaimed, rushing up 
to him, sitting down beside him, and 
casting her arms round his 'neck. 
Overcome by the suddenness of her 
appearance and movements, for a mo- 
ment he spoke not. 

"For mercy's sake — as you love 
me ! — tell me, dearest Charles, what 
has happened ! " 

"Nothing — love — nothing," he re- 
plied ; but his look belied his speech. 

" Oh ! am not I your wife, dearest ? 
Charles, I shall really go distracted if 
you do not tell me what has happened. 
I know that something — something 
dreadful — " He put his arm round 
her waist, and drew her tenderly 
towards him. He felt her heart beat- 
ing violently. He kissed her cold 
forehead, but spoke not. 

" Come, dearest ! let me share your 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAU. 



Ili7 



sorrows," said she in a thrilling voice. 
" Cannot you trust your Agnes ? Has 
not Heaven scut me to share your 
anxieties and griefs ? " 

" I love you, Agnes ! ay, more than 
ever man loved woman ! " he faltered, 
as he felt her arms folding him in 
closer and closer embrace ; and she 
gazed at him with wild agitation, ex- 
pecting presently to hear of some fear- 
ful catastrophe. 

" I cannot bear this much, longer, 
dearest — I feel I cannot," said she, 
rather faintly. " What has hap- 
pened ? What, that you dare not 
tell ma ? I can bear anything, while 
I have you and my children ! You 
have been unhappy, my own Charles, 
for many days past. I have felt that 
you were ! — I will not part with you 
till I know all ! " 

" You soon must know all, my sweet 
love ; and I take Heaven to witness, 
that it is principally on your account, 

and that of my children, that I In 

fact, I did not wish any of you to have 
known it till " 

' ' You — are never going — to fight a 
duel ? " she gasped, turning white as 
death. 

"Oh! no, no, Agnes! I solemnly 
assure you ! If I could have brought 
myself to engage in such an unhallowed 
aiiair, would this scene ever first have 
occurred ? No, no, my own love ! 
Must I then tell you of the misfor- 
tune that has overtaken us ? " His 
words somewhat restored her, but she 
continued to gaze at him in mute and 
breathless apprehension. "Let me 
then conceal nothing, Agnes — they 
are bringing an action against me, 
which, if successful, may cause us all to 
quit Yatton — and it maybe, forever." 

"Oh, Chai'les ! " she murmured, her 
eyes riveted upon his, while she un- 
consciously moved still nearer to him 
and trembled. Her head drooped 
upon his shoulder. 

"Why is this?" she whispered, 
after a pause. 

" Let us, dearest, talk of it another 
time. I have now told you what you 
asked me." — He pouredher out a glass 
of water. Having drunk a little, she 
appeared revived. 



" Is all lost ? Do, my own Charles 
— let me know really the worst ! " 

"We are young, Agnes, and have 
the world before us. Health and 
honour are better than riches. You 
and our little loves — the children 
which God has given us — are my 
riches," said he, gazing with unspeak- 
able tenderness at her. "Even should 
it be the will of Heaven that this 
affair should go against us — so long 
as they cannot separate us from each 
other, they cannot really hurt us." 
She suddenly kissed him with frantic 
energy, and an hysteric smile gleamed 
over her pallid excited features. 

' ' Calm yourself, Agnes ! — calm 
yourself, for my sake ! — as you love 
me!" His voice quivered. "Oh, 
how very weak and foolish I have 
been to yield to " 

"No, no, no!" she gasped, evi- 
dently labouring with hysteric oppres- 
sion. "Hush!" said she, suddenly 
starting, and wildly leaning forward 
towards the door which opened into 
the gallery leading to the various bed- 
rooms. He listened — the mother's ear 
had been quick and true. He pre- 
sently heard the sound of many 
children's voices approaching : they 
were the little party, accompanied 
by Kate, on their way to bed ; and 
little Charles's voice was loudest, and 
his laugh the merriest of them all. 
A wild smile gleamed on Mrs. Aubrey's 
face ; her hand grasped her husband's 
with convulsive pressure ; and she 
suddenly sunk, rigid and senseless, 
upon the sofa. He seemed for a 
moment stunned at the sight of her 
motionless figure. Soon, however, 
recovering his presence of mind, he 
rang the bell, and one or two female 
attendants quickly appeared ; and by 
their joint assistance Mrs. Aubrey was 
carried to her bed in the adjoining 
room, where, by the use of the ordinary 
remedies, she was presently restored 
to consciousness. Her first languid 
look was towards Mr. Aubrey, whose 
hand she slowly raised to her lips. 
She tried to throw a smile over her 
wan features — but 'twas in vain ; and, 
after a few heavy and half-choking 
sobs, her over-charged feelings found 



168 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



relief in a flood of tears. Full of the 
liveliest apprehensions as to the effect 
of this violent emotion upon her, in 
her critical condition, he remained 
with her for some time, pouring into 
her ear every soothing and tender ex- 
pression he could think of. He at 
length succeeded in bringing her into 
a somewhat more tranquil state than 
he could have expected. He strictly 
enjoined the attendants, who had not 
quitted their lady's chamber, and 
whose alarmed and inquisitive looks 
he had noticed for some time with 
anxiety, to preserve silence concern- 
ing what they had so unexpectedly 
witnessed, adding, that something 
unfortunate had happened, of which 
they would hear but too soon. 

"Are you going to tell Kate?" 
whispered Mrs. Aubrey sorrowfully. 
' ' Surely, love, you have suffered 
enough through my weakness. Wait 
till to-morrow. Let her — poor girl ! 
— have afeiv more happy hours ! " 

" No, Agnes — it was my own weak- 
ness which caused me to be surprised 
into this premature disclosure to you. 
And now I must meet her again to- 
night, and I cannot control either my 
features or my feelings. Yes, poor 
Kate, she must know all to-night ! I 
shall not be long absent, Agnes." And 
directing her maid to remain with her 
till he returned, he withdrew, and 
with slow step and heavy heart 
descended to the library ; preparing 
himself for another heart- breaking 
scene — plunging another innocent and 
joyous creature into misery, which he 
believed to be inevitable. Having 
looked into the drawing-room as he 
passed it, and seen no one there — his 
mother having, as usual, retired at a 
very early hour — he rung his library 
bell, and desired Miss Aubrey's maid 
to request her mistress to come down 
to him there, as soon as she was at 
leisure. He was glad that the only 
light in the room was that given out 
by the fire, which was not very bright, 
and so would in some degree shield his 
features from, at all events, immedi- 
ate scrutiny. His heart ached as, 
shortly afterwards, he heard Kate's 
light step crossing the hall. When 



she entered, her eyes sparkled with 
vivacity, and a smile was on her beau- 
teous cheek. Her dress was slightly dis- 
ordered, and her hair half uncurled — 
the results of her sport with the little 
ones whom she had been seeing to bed. 

"What merry little things, to be 
sure ! " she commenced laughingly — 
"I could not get them to lie still a 
moment — popping their little heads in 
and out of the clothes. A fine night 
I shall have with Sir Harry ! for he is 
to be my tiny little bedfellow, and I 
dare say I sliall not sleep a wink all 
night. Why, Charles, how very — 
very grave you look to-night ! " she 
added quickly, observing his eye fixed 
moodily upon her. 

" 'Tis you who are so very gay," he 
replied, endeavouring to smile. " I 
want to speak to you, dear Kate," he 
commenced affectionately, "on a 
serious matter. I have received some 
letters to-night " 

Kate coloured suddenly and violent- 
ly, and her heart beat ; but, sweet 
soul ! she was mistaken — very, very 
far off the mark her troubled brother 
was aiming at. ' ' And relying on your 
strength of mind, I have resolved to 
put you at once in possession of what 
I myself know. Can you hear bad 
news well, Kate ? " 

She turned very pale, and drawing 
her chair nearer to her brother, said, 
" Do not keep me in suspense, Charles 
— I can bear anything but suspense — 
that is dreadful ! What has happened ? 
Oh dear," she added, with sudden 
alarm, "where are mamma and 
Agnes ? " She started to her feet. 

" I assure you they are both well, 
Kate. My mother is now doubtless 
asleep, and as well as she ever was ; 
Agnes is in her bed-room — certainly 
much distressed at the news which I 
am going " 

" Oh why, Charles, did you tell any- 
thing distressing to her ? " exclaimed 
Miss Aubrey with an alarmed air. 

"We came together by surprise, 
Kate ! Perhaps, too, it would have 
been worse to have kept her in sus- 
pense ; but she is recovering ! — I shall 
soon return to her. — And now, my 
dear Kate — I know your strong sense 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



169 



and spirit — a very .great calamity 
hangs over us. Let you and me," he 
grasped her hands affectionately, 
" stand it steadily, and support those 
who cannot ! " 

" Let me at once know all, Charles. 
See if I do not bear it as becomes 
your sister," said she with forced 
calmness. 

" If it should become necessary for 
all of us to retire into obscurity — into 
humble obscurity, dear Kate — how do 
you think you could bear it ? " 

"If it will be an honourable 
obscurity — nay, 'tis quite impossible 
to be a dis-honourable obscurity," said 
Miss Aubrey with a momentary flash 
of energy. 

" Never, never, Kate ! The Aubreys 
may lose everything on earth but the 
jewel honour, and love for one 
another ! " 

"Let me know all, Charles : I see 
that something or other shocking has 
happened," said Miss Aubrey in a 
low tone, with a look of the deepest 
apprehension. 

" I will tell you the worst, Kate — a 
strange claim is set \ip — by one I 
never heard of — to the whole of the 
property we now enjoy ! " 

Miss Aubrey started, and the slight 
colour that remained faded entirely 
from her cheek. 

" But is it a true claim, Charles ? " 
she enquired faintly. 

" That remains to be proved. But 
I will disguise nothing from you — I 
have woful apprehensions " 

" Do you mean to say that Yatton 
is not ours?" enquired Miss Aubrey, 
catching her breath. 

" So, alas ! my dearest Kate, it is 
said ! " 

Miss Aubrey looked bewildered, and 
pressed her hand to her forehead. 

" How shocking ! — shocking ! — 
shocking ! " she gasped. — " What is 
to become of mamma ? " 

" God Almighty will not desert her 
in her old age. He will desert none 
of us, if we only trust in him," said 
her brother. 

Miss Aubrey remained gazing at 
him intently, and continued perfectly 
motionless. 



" Must we then all leave Yatton ? " 
said she faintly, after a while. 

"If this claim succeeds — but we 
shall leave it together, Kate." 

She threw her arms round his neck, 
and wept bitterly. 

"Hush, hush, Kate ! " said he, per- 
ceiving the increasing violence of her 
emotions, ' ' restrain your feelings for 
the sake of my mother — and Agnes." 

His words had the desired effect : 
the poor girl made a desperate effort. 
Unclasping her arms from her brother's 
neck, she sat down in a chair, breath- 
ing hard ; and, after a few minutes' 
pause, she said faintly, "I am better 
now. Do tell me more, Charles ! Let 
me have something to think about — 
only don't say anything about — about 
— mamma and Agues ! " In spite of 
herself a visible shudder ran through 
her frame. 

" It seems, Kate," said he, with all 
the calmness he could assume — "at 
least they are trying to prove — that 
our branch of the family has suc- 
ceeded to the property prematurely — 
that there is living an heir of the 
elder branch — that his case has been 
taken up by powerful friends ; and — let 
me tell you the worst at once — even 
the lawyers consulted by Mr. Parkin- 
son on my behalf, take a most alarming 
view of the possibilities of the case 
that maybe brought against us " 

"But is mamma provided for?" 
whispered Miss Aubrey almost inartic- 
ulately. " When I look at her again, 
I shall almost break my heart ! " 

" No, no, Kate, you won't ! Heaven 
will give you strength," said her 
brother in a tremulous voice. " Remem- 
ber, my only sister — my dearest Kate ! 
you must support me in my trouble, 
as I will support you — we will support 
one another " 

"We will — we will!" interrupted 
Miss Aubrey — instantly checking, 
however, her rising excitement, 

"You bear it bravely, my noble 
girl ! " said Mr. Aubrey fondly, after 
a brief interval of silence. 

She turned from him her head, and 
moved her hand — in deprecation of 
expressions that might utterly unnerve 
her. Then she convulsively clasped 



170 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



her hands over her forehead ; and, 
after a minute or two, turned towards 
him with tears in her eyes, but tran- 
quillized features. The struggle had 
been dreadful, though brief — her noble 
spirit recovered itself. 

'Twas like some fair bark, in 

mortal conflict with the black and 
boiling waters and howling hurricane ; 
long quivering on the brink of de- 
struction, but at last outliving the 
storm, righting itself, and suddenly- 
gliding into safe and tranquil 
waters ! 

The distressed brother and sister sat 
conversing for a long time, frequently 
in tears, but with infinitely greater 
calmness and firmness than could have 
been expected. They agreed that Dr. 
Tatham should very early in the morn- 
ing be sent for, and implored to take 
upon himself the bitter duty of break- 
ing the matter as gradually and safely 
as possible to their mother ; its effects 
upon whom, her children anticipated 
with the most vivid apprehension. 
They both considered that an event of 
such publicity and importance could 
not possibly remain long unknown to 
her, and that it was, on the whole, 
better that the trial should be got 
over as soon as possible. They then 
retired — Kate to a sleepless pillow, 
and her brother to spend a greater 
portion of the night in attempts to 
soothe and console his suffering wife ; 
each of them having first knelt in 
humble reverence, and poured forth 
the breathings of a stricken and bleed- 
ing heart before Him who hath declared 
that he heaketh and answereth 
prayer. 

Ah ! who can tell what a day or an 
hour may bring forth ? 



" It won't kindle — not a bit on't — 
it's green and full o' sap. Go out, and 
get us a log that's dry and old, George 
— and let's try to have a bit of a blaze 
in t' ould chimney, this bitter night," 
said Isaac Tonson, the gamekeeper at 
Yatton, to the good-natured landlord 
of the Aubrey Arms, the little — and 
only — inn of the village. The sug- 
gestion was instantly attended to. 



' ' How Peter's a-feathering of his 
geese to-night, to be sure ! " exclaimed 
the landlord on his return, shaking 
the snow off his coat, and laying on 
the fire a great dry old log of wood, 
which seemed very acceptable to the 
hungry flames, for they licked it cor- 
dially the moment it was placed 
amongst them, and there was very 
soon given out a cheerful blaze. 'Twas 
a snug room, the brick floor covered 
with fresh sand ; and on a few stools 
and benches, with a table in the 
middle, on which stood a large can 
and ale-glasses, with a plate of tobacco, 
sat some half-dozen men, enjoying 
their pipe and glass. In the chim- 
ney-corner sat Thomas Dickons, the 
faithful under-bailiff of Mr. Aubrey, 
a big, broad-shouldered, middle-aged 
man, with a hard-featured face and a 
phlegmatic air. In the opposite corner 
sat the little grizzle-headed clerk and 
sexton, old Halleluiah — (as he was 
called, but his real name was Jonas 
Higgs.) Beside him sat Pumpkin, 
the gardener at the Hall, a very 
frequent guest at the Aubrey Arms 
o' nights — always attended by Hector, 
the large Newfoundland dog already 
spoken of, and who was now lying 
stretched on the floor at Pumpkin's 
feet, his nose resting on his fore feet, 
and his eyes, with great gravity, 
watching the motions of a skittish 
kitten under the table. Opposite to 
him sat Tonson the gamekeeper — a 
thin, wiry, beetle-browed fellow, with 
eyes like a ferret ; and there were also 
one or two farmers, that lived in the 
village. 

"Let's ha' another can o' ale, afore 
ye sit down," said Tonson, "we can 
do with another half-a-gallon, I'm 
thinking ! " This order also was 
quickly attended to ; and then the 
landlord, having seen to the door, and 
fastened the shutters close, took his 
place on a vacant stool, and resumed 
his pipe. 

" So she do take a very long grave 
Jonas ? " enquired Dickons, of the 
sexton, after some little pause. 
( "Ay, Mr. Dickons, a' think she do, 
t' ould girl ! I always thought she 
would. 'Tis a reg'lar man's size, I 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



171 



warrant you ; and when parson saw 
it, a' said, he thought 'twere too big ; 
but I ax'd his pardon, and said I 
hadn't been sexton for thirty years 
without knowing my business — ha, 
ha!" 

"I suppose, Jonas, you mun ha' 
seen her walking about i' t' village, in 
your time — Were she such a big- 
looking woman ? " enquired Pumpkin, 
as he shook the ashes out of his pipe, 
and replenished it. 

' ' Forty years ago I used to see her 
— she were then an old woman, wi' 
white hair, and leaned on a stick — I 
never thought she'd a lasted so long," 
replied Higgs, emptying his glass. 

" She've had a pretty long spell 
on't," quoth Dickons, after slowly 
emptying his mouth of smoke. 

"A hundred and two," replied the 
sexton ; "so saith her coffin-plate — a' 
seed it to-day." 

" What were her name ? " enquired 
Tonson — "I never knew her by any 
name but blind Bess." 

" Her nanie be Elizabeth Crabtrce, 
on the coffin," replied Higgs; "and 
she's to be buried to-morrow." 

"She were a strange old woman," 
said Hazel, one of the farmers, as he 
took down one of the oatcakes that 
were hanging overhead, and breaking 
off a piece, held it with the tongs 
before the fire to toast, and then put 
it into his ale. 

"Ay, she were," quoth Pumpkin; 
"I wonder what she thinks o' such 
things now — maybe she's paying dear 
for her tricks ! " 

" Tut, Pumpkin, " said Tonson, "let 
t' ould creature rest in her grave 
peaceably ! " 

"Ay, Master Tonson," quoth the 
clerk, in his reading-desk twang — 
"there be no knowledge, nor wisdom, 
nor device ! " 

" 'Tis very odd," observed Pumpkin, 
" but this dog that's lying at my feet 
never could a' bear going past her 
cottage late o' nights ; and the night 
she died — Lord ! you should have 
heard the howl Hector gave — and a' 
didn't then know she were gone." 

"No! but were't really so?" en- 
quired Dickons — several of the others 



taking their pipes out of their mouths, 
and looking earnestly at Pumpkin. 

" I didn't half like it, I assure you," 
quoth Pumpkin. 

"Ha, ha, ha! — ha, ha!" laughed 
the gamekeeper — 

' ' Ay, marry you may laugh — but 
I'll stake half-a-gallon o' ale you 
daren't go by yourself to the cottage 
where she's lying — now, mind — i' the 
dark." 

"I'll do it," quoth Higgs eagerly, 
preparing to lay down his pipe. 

" No, no— thou' 'rt quite used to dead 
folk," replied Pumpkin — and, after a 
little faint drollery, they dropped into 
silence. 

" Bess dropped off sudden, like, at 
last, didn't she ? " enquired the land- 
lord. 

' ' She went out, as they say, like the 
snuff of a candle," replied Jobbins, 
one of the farmers ; "no one were 
with her but my Missis at the time. 
The night afore she took to the rattles 
all of a sudden. My Sail (that's done 
for her this long time, by madam's 
orders) says old Bess were a good deal 
shaken by a chap from London, that 
came down about a week before Christ- 
mas." 

"Ay, ay," quoth one, "I've heard 
o' that — what was it ? — what passed 
atwixt them ? " 

"Why, a' don't well know — but he 
seemed to know summat about t' ould 
girl's connexions, and he had a book, 
and wrote down something ; and he 
axed her, so Sail do tell me, such a 
many things about old people, and 
things that are long gone by ! " 

' ' What were the use on't ? " enquired 
Dickons ; "for Bess hath been silly 
this ten years, to my sartain know- 
ledge." 

" Why, a' couldn't tell. He seemed 
very 'quisitive, too, about t' ould 
creature's bible am j -ayer-book (she 
kept 'em in that ould b„,g of hers) — 
and. Sail said she talked a good deal to 
the chap in her mumbling way, and 
seemed to know some folk he asked 
her about. And Sail saith she hath 
been, in a manner, dismal ever since, 
and often a-crying and talking to 
herself." 



172 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



"I've heard," said the landlord, 
" that squire and parson were wi' her 
on Christmas-day — and that she talked 
a deal o' strange things, and that the 
squire did seem, as it were, struck a 
little, you know — struck, like ! " 

' ' Why, so my Sail do say ; but it 
may be all her own head,'' replied 
Jobbins. 

Here a pause took place. 

"Madam," said the sexton, "hath 
given orders for a decent burying to- 
morrow." 

" "Well, a' never thought any wrong 
of ould Bess, for my part," said one — 
and another — and another ; and they 
smoked their pipes for some minutes 
in silence. 

' ' Talking o'strangers from London, " 
said the sexton presently; "who do 
know anything o' them two chaps that 
were at church last Sunday 1 Two 
such peacock chaps I never seed afore 
in my time — and grinning all service- 
time ! " 

"Ay, Til tell you something of 
'em," said Hazel — a big broad-shoul- 
dered farmer, who plucked his pipe out 
of his mouth with sudden energy — 
"They're a brace o' good ones, to be 
sure, lia, ha ! Some week or ten days 
ago, as I were a- coming across the 
field leading into the lane behind the 
church, I seed these same two chaps, 
and on coming nearer, (they not seeing 
me for the hedge,) Lord bless roe ! 
would ye believe it ? — if they wasn't 
a-teasing my daughter Jenny, that 
were coming along wi' some physic 
from the doctor for my old woman ! 
One of 'em seemed a-going to put his 
arm round her neck, and t'other came 
close to her on t'other side, a-talking 
to her and pushing her about. " Here 
a young farmer, who had but seldom 
spoken, took his pipe out of his mouth, 
and exclaiming, " Lord bless me ! " 
sat listening with his mouth wide 
open. ""Well, a' came into the road 
behind 'em, without their seeing me ; 
and " — (here he stretched out a thick, 
rigid, muscular arm, and clenched his 
teeth) — "a' got hold of each by the 
collar, and one of 'em I shook about, 
and gave him a kick i' the breech that 
sent him spinning a yard or two on 



the road, he clapping his hand behind 
him, and crying, to be sure — 'You'll 
smart for this — a good hundred pound 
damages ! ' or summat o' that sort. 
T'other dropped on his knees, and 
begged for mercy ; so a' just spit in 
his face, and flung him under t' hedge, 
telling him if he stirred till I were out 
o' sight, I'd crack his skull for him ; 
and so I would ! " Here the wrath- 
ful speaker pushed his pipe again 
between his lips, and began puffing 
away with great energy ; while he who 
had appeared to take so great an in- 
terest in the story, and who was the 
very man who had flown to the rescue 
of Miss Aubrey, when she seemed on 
the point of being similarly treated, 
told that circumstance exactly as it 
occurred, amidst the silent but excited 
wonder of those present — all of whom, 
at its close, uttered vehement exe- 
crations, and intimated the summary 
and savage punishment which the 
cowardly rascal would have experienced 
at the hands of each and every one of 
them, had they come across him. 

"I reckon," said the landlord, as 
soon as the swell had a little subsided, 
"they must be the two chaps that 
put up here, some time ago, for an 
hour or so. You should ha' seen 'em 
get on and off the saddle — that's all ! 
Why, a' laughed outright ! The chap 
with the hair under his chin got on 
upon the wrong side, and t'other 
seemed as if he thought his beast would 
a' hit him ! " 

"Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed all. 

"I thought they'd a' both got a 
fall before they'd gone a dozen 
yards ! " 

' ' They've taken a strange fancy to 
my churchyard," said the sexton, 
setting down his glass, and then pre- 
paring to fill his pipe again ; " they've 
been looking about among 'em — among 
t' ould gravestones, up behind t' ould 
yew-tree 3'onder ; and one of them 
writ something, now and then, in a 
book ; so they're book-writers, in 
coorse ! " 

" That's scholars, I reckon," quoth 
Dickons ; " but rot the larning of such 
chaps as them ! " 

" I wonder if they'll put a picture 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



173 



o' the Hall in their book," quoth the 
sexton. " They axed a many ques- 
tions about the people up there, 
especially about the squire's father, 
and some ould folk, whose names I 
knew when they spoke of 'em — but I 
hadn't heard o' them for this forty 
year. And one of 'em (he were the 
shortest, and such a chap, to be sure ! 
— just like the monkey that were 
dressed i' the man's clothes last 
Grilston fair) talked uncommon fine 
about young Miss " 

" I I'd a' heard him tak' her name 
into his dirty mouth, his teeth should 
a' gone after it ! " said Tonson. 

" Lord ! he didn't say any harm — 
only silly-like — and t'other seemed 
now and then not to like his going on 
so. The little one said Miss were a 
lovely gal, or something like that — 
and hoped they'd become by-and-by 
better friends — ah, ha ! " 

"What! wi' that chap?" said 
Pumpkin — and he looked as if he 
were meditating putting the little 
sexton up the chimney, for the mere 
naming of such a thing. 

" 1 reckon they're fro' London, and 
brought toon tricks wi' 'em — for I 
never heard o' such goings on as theirs 
down here afore," said Tonson. 

" One of 'em — him that axed me all 
the questions, and wrote i' t' book, 
seemed a sharp enough chap in his 
way ; but I can't say much for the 
little one," said Higgs. " Lud, I 
couldn't hardly look in his face for 
laughing, he seemed such a fool !— He 
had a riding-whip wi' a silver head, 
and stood smacking his legs (you 
should ha' seen how tight his clothes 
was on his legs — I warrant you, Tim 
Timkins never seed such a thing, I'll 
be sworn) all the while, as if a' liked 
to hear the sound of it." 

" If I'd a' been beside him," said 
Hazel, " I'd a' saved him that trouble 
— only I'd a' laid it into another part 
of him ! " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " they laughed — and 
presently passed on to other matters. 

" Hath the squire been doing much 
lately in Parliament ? " enquired the 
sexton of Dickons. 

' ' Why, yes — he's trying hard to 



get that new road made from Harkley 
bridge to Hilton." 

"Ah, that would save a good four 
mile, if a' could manage it ! " 

" I hear the Papists are trying to 
get the upper hand again — -which the 
Lud forbid ! " said the sexton, after 
another pause. 

"The squire hath lately made a 
speech in that matter, that hath 
finished them," said Dickons. 

" What would they be after ? " en- 
quired the landlord of Dickons, of 
whom, in common with all present, he 
thought great things. 

" They say they wants nothing but 
what's their own, and liberty, and 
that like " 

"If thou wert a shepherd, Master 
Higgs," replied Dickons, "and wert 
to be asked by ten or a dozen wolves 
to let them in among thy flock of 
sheep, they saying how quiet and kind 
they would be to 'em— would'st let 
'em in, or keep em out — eh ? " 

" Ay, ay — that be it — 'tis as true 
as gospel ! " said the clerk. 

" So you a'n't to have that old syca- 
more down, after all, Master Dick- 
ons ? " enquired Tonson. 

' ' No ; miss hath carried the day 
against the squire and Mr. Waters ; 
and there stands the old tree, and it 
hath to be looked better after than it 
were afore." 

" Why hath miss taken such a fancy 
to it ? 'Tis an old crazy thing." 

" If thou hadst been there when 
she did beg, as I may say, its life," 
replied Dickons, with a little energy 
— " and hadst seen her, and heard her 
voice, that be as smooth as cream, 
thou would'st never have forgotten it, 
I can tell thee ! " 

' ' There isn't a more beautiful lady 
i' th' county, I reckon, than the 
squire's sister ? " enquired the sexton. 

' ' No, nor in all England : if 
there be, I'll lay down a hundred 
pounds." 

' ' And where's to be found a young 
lady that do go about i' t' village like 
she ? — She were wi' Phoebe Williams 
t'other night, all through the snow, 
and i' t' dark." 

"If I'd only laid hands on that 



174 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



chap ! " interrupted the young farmer, 
her rescuer. 

"I wonder she do not choose some 
one to be married to, up in London, " 
said the landlord. 

"She'll be having some delicate 
high quality chap, I reckon, one o' 
these fine days," said Hazel. 

" She will be a dainty dish, truly, 
for whomever God gives her to, "quoth 
Dickons. 

"Ay, she will," said more than one, 
in an earnest tone. 

"Now, to my mind," said Tonson, 
" saving your presence, Master Dick- 
ons, I know not but young madam be 
more to my taste ; she be in a manner 
somewhat fuller — plumper-like, and 
her skin be so white, and. her hair as 
black as a raven's. " 

"There's not another two such 
women to be found in the whole 
world," said Dickons authoritatively. 
Here Hector suddenly rose up, and 
went to the door, where he stood 
snuffing in an inquisitive manner. 

"Now, what do that dog hear, I 
wonder?" quoth Pumpkin curiously, 
stooping forward. 

"Blind Bess," replied Tonson, 
winking his eye, and laughing. Pre- 
sently there was a sharp rapping at 
the door ; which the landlord opened, 
and let in one of the servants from 
the Hall, his clothes white with snow, 
his face nearly as white, with manifest 
agitation. 

"Why, man, what's the matter?" 
enquired Dickons, startled by the 
man's appearance. "Art frightened 
at anything ? " 

" Oh, Lord ! oh, Lord ! " he com- 
menced. 

" What is it, man ? Art drunk ?— 
or mad ? — or frightened ? Take a drop 
o' drink," said Tonson. But the man 
refused it. 

"Oh, my friends, sad work at the 
Hall ! " 

" What's the matter ? " cried all at 
once, rising and standing round the 
new comer. 

" If thou be'st drunk, John," said 
Dickons sternly, " there's a way of 
sobering thee — mind that." 

" Oh, Master Dickons, I don't know 



what's come to me, for grief and 
fright ! The Squire, they do say, and 
all of us, are to be turned out o' 
Yatton ! " 

' ' What ! " exclaimed all in a breath. 

"There's some one else lays claim 
to it. We must all go ! Oh, Lud ! 
oh, Lud ! " No one spoke for near a 
minute ; and consternation was written 
on every face. 

"Sit thee down here, John," said 
Dickons at length, "and let us hear 
what thou hast to say — or thou wilt 
have us all be going up in a body to 
the Hall." 

Having forced on him part of a 
glass of ale, he began, — " There hath 
been plainly mischief brewing, some- 
where, this many days, as I could tell 
by the troubled face o' the squire ; but 
he kept it to himself. Lawyer Park- 
inson and another have been latterly 
coming in chaises from London ; and 
last night the squire got a letter that 
seems to have finished all. Such 
trouble there were last night with the 
squire, and young madam and miss ! 
And to-day the parson came, and were 
a long while alone with old Madam 
Aubrey, who hath since had a stroke, 
or a fit, or something of that like, 
(the doctors have been there all day 
from Grilston,) and likewise young 
madam hath taken to her bed, and 
is ill." 

"And what of the squire and miss ? " 
enquired some one, after all had main- 
tained a long silence. 

" Oh, 'twould break your heart to 
see them," said the man, bursting into 
tears : ' ' they are both as pale as 
death : he so dreadful sorrowful, but 
quiet, like, and she now and then 
wringing her hands, and both of them 
going from the bed-room of old madam 
to young madam's. Nay, an' there had 
been half-a-dozen deaths i' th' house, 
it could not be worse. Neither the 
squire nor miss hath touched food the 
whole day ! " 

There was, in truth, not a dry eye 
in the room, nor one whose voice did 
not seem somewhat obstructed with 
his emotions. 

"Who told thee about the squire's 
losing the estate ?" enquired Dickons. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



175 



" We heard of it but an hour or so, 
agone. Mr. Parkinson (it seems by 
the squire's orders) told Mr. Waters, 
and he told it to us ; saying as how 
it was useless to keep such a thing 
secret, and that we might all know 
the occasion of so much trouble." 

" Who's to ha' it then, instead of 
the squire ? " at length enquired Ton- 
son, in a voice half choked with rage 
and grief. 

" Lord only knows at present. But 
whoever 'tis, there isn't one of us 
sarvants but will go with the squire 
and his — if it be even to prison, that 
I can tell ye." 

" I'm Squire Aubrey's gamekeeper," 
quoth Ton on, his eye kindling as his 
countenance darkened, "and no one's 
else ! It shall go hard if any one else 
here hath a game — " 

' ' But if there's law in the land, 
sure the justice must be wi' t' squire — ■ 
he and his family have had it so long," 
said one of the farmers. 

"I'll tell you what, masters," said 
Pumpkin mysteriously, "I shall be 
somewhat better pleased when Jonas 
here hath got that old creature Bess 
safe underground." 

" Blind Bess ? " exclaimed Tonson, 
with a very serious, not to say dis- 
turbed, countenance. "I wonder — 
sure ! sure ! that ould witch can have 
had no hand in all this " 

' ' Poor old soul, not she ! There be 
no such things as witches now-a-days," 
exclaimed Jonas. ' ' Not she, I warrant 
me ! She hath been ever befriended 
by the Squire's family. She do it ! " 

' ' The sooner we get her under- 
ground, for all that, the better, say 
I ! " quoth Tonson, striking his hand 
on the table. 

"The parson hath a choice sermon 
on 'The Flying away of Kiches,' " 
said Higgs in a quaint, sad manner ; 
"'tis to be hoped he'll preach from it 
next Sunday ! " 

Soon after this, the little party dis- 
persed, each oppressed with greater 
grief and amazement than he had ever 
known before. Bad news fly swiftly— 
and that which had just come from the 
Hall, within a very few hours of its 
having been told at the Aubrey Arms, 



had spread grief and consternation 
among high and low for many miles 
round Yatton. 



CHAPTEE, X. 

WotTLD you have believed it ? Not- 
withstanding all that had happened 
between Titmouse and Tag-rag, they 
positively got reconciled to one another 
— a triumphant result of the astute 
policy of Mr. Gammon. As soon as 
he had heard Titmouse's infuriated 
account of his ignominious expulsion 
from Satin Lodge, he burst into a fit 
of hearty but gentle laughter, which 
at length subsided into an inward 
chuckle that lasted the rest of the day ; 
and which was occasioned, first, by 
gratification at the impression which 
his own sagacity had evidently pro- 
duced upon the powerful mind of 
Titmouse ; secondly, by an exquisite 
appreciation of the mingled meanness 
and stupidity of Tag-rag. I do not 
mean it to be understood, that Tit- 
mouse had given Mr. Gammon such 
a terse and clear account of the matter 
as I imagine myself to have given to 
my reader ; but still he told quite 
enough to put Mr. Gammon in full 
possession of the true state of the ca^e. 
Good : but then — instantly reflected 
Gammon — what are we now to do 
with Titmouse 1 — -where was that trou- 
blesome little ape to be caged, till it 
suited the purposes of his proprietors 
(as Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap 
might surely be called, for they had 
caught him, however they might fail 
to tame him) to let him loose upon 
society, to amuse and astonish it by 
his antics ? — That was the question 
occupying the thoughts of Mr. Gam- 
mon while his calm, clear, grey eye 
was fixed upon Titmouse, apparently 
very attentive to what he was saying. 
That gentleman had first told the story 
of his wrongs to Snap, who instantly, 
rubbing his hands, suggested an in- 
dictment at the Clerkenwell sessions — • 
an idea which infinitely delighted 



17G 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



Titmouse, but was somewhat sternly 
" pooh-pooh-poohed ! " by Mr. Gam- 
mon as soon as he heard of it, — Snap 
thereat shrugging his shoulders with. 
a disconcerted air, but a bitter sneer 
upon his sharp, hard face. Like many 
men of little but active minds, early 
drilled to particular callings, Snap 
was equal to the mechanical conduct 
of business — the mere working of the 
machinery — but, as the phrase is, 
could never see an inch beyond his 
nose. Every petty conjuncture of 
circumstances that admitted of litiga- 
tion, at once suggested its expediency, 
without reference to other considera- 
tions, or connection with, or subordi- 
nation to, any general purpose or plan 
of action. A creature of small impulses, 
he had no idea of foregoing a momen- 
tary advantage to secure an ulterior 
object — which, in fact, he could not 
keep for a moment before his thoughts, 
so as to have any influence on his 
movements. "What a different man, 
now, was Gammon ! 

To speak after the manner of phy- 
siologists, several of my characters — - 
Titmouse, Tag-rag (with his amiable 
wife and daughter), Huckaback, Snap, 
and old Quirk himself — may be looked 
on as reptiles of a low order in the 
scale of being, whose simple structures 
almost one dash of the knife would 
suffice to lay thoroughly open. Gam- 
mon, however, I look upon as of a 
much higher order ; possessing a far 
more complicated structure, adapted 
to the discharge of superior functions ; 
and who, consequently, requireth a 
more careful dissection. But let it 
not be supposed that I have yet done 
with any of my characters. 

Gammon saw that Tag-rag, under 
proper management, might be made 
very useful. He was a moneyed man ; 
a selfish man ; and, after his sort, an 
ambitious man. He had an only child, 
a daughter, and if Titmouse and he 
could only be by any means once more 
brought together, and a firm friend- 
ship cemented between them, Gam- 
mon saw several very profitable uses 
to which such an intimacy might be 
turned, in the happening of any of 
several contingencies which he con- 



templated as possible. In the event, 
for instance, of larger outlays of money 
being required than suited the con- 
venience of the firm — could not Tag- 
rag be easily brought to accommodate 
his future son-in-law of £10,000 
a-year ? Suppose, for instance, that 
after all their case should break down, 
and all their pains, exertions, and 
expenditure be utterly thrown away ? 
Now, if Tag-rag could be quietly 
brought, some fine day, to the point of 
either making some actual advance, or 
entering into security for Titmouse — 
ah ! that would do — that would do, 
said both Quirk and Gammon. But 
then Titmouse was a very unsafe in- 
strument — an incalculable fool, and 
might commit himself too far ! 

"You forget, Gammon," said old 
Mr. Quirk, "I don't fear this girl of 
Tag-rag's — because only let Titmouse 
see — hem," he suddenly paused, and 
looked a little confused. 

" To be sure — I see," replied Gam- 
mon quietly, and the thing passed off. 
" If either Miss Quirk or Miss Tag- 
rag becomes Mrs. Titmouse," thought 
he, "I am not the man I take myself 
for." 

A few days after Titmouse's expul- 
sion from Satin Lodge, without his 
having ever gone near Tag-rag's pre- 
mises in Oxford Street, or, in short, 
seen or heard anything about him, 
or any one connected with him, he 
removed to small but very respect- 
able lodgings in the neighbourhood of 
Hatton Garden, provided for him by 
Mr. Quirk. Mrs. Squallop was quite 
affected while she took leave of Tit- 
mouse, who gave her son sixpence to 
take his two boxes down-stairs to the 
hackney coach drawn up opposite to 
the entrance of Closet Court. 

"I've always felt like a mother 
towards you, sir, in my humble way," 
said Mrs. Squallop in a very respectful 
manner, and curtseying profoundly. 

"A — I've not got any small silver 
by me, my good woman," said Tit- 
mouse with a fine air, as he drew on 
his white kid glove. 

"Lord, Mr. Titmouse!" said the 
woman, almost bursting into tears ' ' I 
wasn't asking for money, neither for 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



177 



me nor mine — only one can't help, as 
it were, feeling at parting with an old 
lodger, you know, sir — " 

"Ah — ya — as — and all that ! Well, 
my good woman, good-day, good-day." 

" Good-bye, sir — God bless you ; now 
you're going to be a rich man ! — Ex- 
cuse me, sir." — And she seized his 
hand and shook it. 

' ' You're a — devilish — impudent — 
woman — 'pon my soul ! " exclaimed 
Titmouse, his features filled with 
amazement at the presumption of 
which she had been guilty ; and he 
strode down the stairs with an air of 
offended dignity. 

"Well — I never! — That for you, 
you little brute," said Mrs. Squallop, 
snapping her fingers as soon as she 
had heard his last step on the stairs — 
"Kind or cruel, it's all one to you, 
you're a nasty jackanapes, only fit to 
stand in a tailor's window to show his 
clothes — and I'll be sworn you'll come 
to no good in the end ! Let you be 
rich as you may, you'll always be the 
fool you always were ! " 

Had the good woman been familiar 
with the Night Thoughts of Young, 
she might have expressed herself some- 
what tersely in a line of his — 

" Pigmies are pigmies still, though perch'd 
on Alps," 

And, by the way, who can read the 
next line — 
" And pyramids are pyramids in vales," 

without thinking for a moment, with 
a kind of proud sympathy, of certain 
otlier characters in this history ? Well ! 
but let us pass on. 

The day after that on which Mr. 
Gammon ha' I had a long interview 
with Titmouse, at the new lodgings of 
the latter, — when, after a very skilful 
effort, he had succeeded in reconciling 
Titmouse to a renewal of his acquaint- 
ance with Tag-rag, upon that gentle- 
man's making a complete and abject 
apology for his late monstrous conduct, 
Mr. Gammon wended his way towards 
Oxford Street, and soon introduced 
himself once more to Mr. Tag-rag, 
who was standi ig leaning against one 
of the counter. 1 ; in his shop in a musing 
position, with a pea behind his ear, 



and his hands in his breeches pockets. 
Ten days had elapsed since he had 
expelled the little impostor Titmouse 
from Satin Lodge, and during that 
interval he had neither seen nor heard 
anything whatever of him. On now 
catching the first glimpse of Mr. Gam- 
mon, he started from his musing 
posture, not a little disconcerted, and 
agitation overspread his coarse deeply- 
pitted face with a tallowy hue. What 
was in the wind ! Mr. Gammon 
coming to him, so long after what had 
occurred ? Mr. Gammon who, having 
found out his error, had discarded Tit- 
mouse ! Tag-rag had a mortal dread 
of Gammon, who seemed to him to 
glide like a dangerous snake into the 
shop, so quietly, and so deadly ! There 
was something so calm and imper- 
turbable in his demeanour, so blandly 
crafty, so ominously gentle and soft in 
the tone of his voice, so penetrating 
in his eye, and he could throw such 
an infernal smile over his features ! 
Tag-rag might be likened to the ox, 
suddenly shuddering as he perceives 
the glistening folds of the rattlesnake 
noiselessly moving towards, or around 
him, in the long grass. One glimpse 
of his blasting beauty of hue, and — 
Horror ! all is over. 

If the splendid bubble of Titmouse's 
fortune had burst in the manner which 
he had represented, why Gammon here 
now ? thought Tag-rag. It was with, 
in truth, a very poor show of contempt 
and defiance that, in answer to the 
bland salutation of Gammon, he led 
the way down the shop into the little 
room which had been the scene of 
such an extraordinary communication 
concerning Titmouse on a former oc- 
casion. 

Gammon commenced, in a mild 
tone, with a very startling represent- 
ation of the criminal liability which- 
Tag-rag had incurred by his wanton 
outrage upon Mr. Titmouse, his own 
guest, in violation of all the laws of hos- 
pitality. Tag-rag furiously alleged the 
imposition which had been practised 
on him by Titmouse ; but seemed 
quite collapsed when Gammon assured 
him that that circumstance would not 
afford him the slightest justification. 

N 



178 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



Having satisfied Tag-rag that he was 
entirely at the mercy of Titmouse, 
who might subject him to both fine 
and imprisonment, Mr. Gammon pro- 
ceeded to open his eyes to their widest 
stare of amazement by assuring him 
that Titmouse had been hoaxing him, 
and that he was really in the dazzling 
position in which he had been first 
represented by Gammon to Tag-rag ; 
that every week brought him nearer 
to the full and uncontrolled enjoy- 
ment of an estate in Yorkshire, worth 
£10,000 a-year at the very lowest ; 
that it was becoming an object of 
increasing anxiety to them (Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap) to keep 
him out of the hands of money-lenders, 
who, as usual in such cases, had al- 
ready scented out their victim, and to 
forth. — Tag-rag turned very white, 
and felt sick at heart in the midst of 
all his wonder. Oh, and his daughter 
had lost the golden prize ! and through 
his misconduct ! He could have sunk 
into the cellar ! — Mr. Gammon de- 
clared that he could not account for 
the singular conduct of Mr. Titmou e 
on the melancholy occasion in ques- 
tion, except by referring it to the 
excellent wines which he had too 
freely partaken of at Satin Lodge, 
added (said Gammon, with an ex- 
quisite expression of features that per- 
fectly fascinated Tag-rag) to a "certain 
tenderer influence" which had fairly 
laid prostrate the faculties of the young 
and enthusiastic Titmouse ; that there 
could be no doubt of his real motive 
in the conduct alluded to, namely, a 
desire to test the sincerity and dis- 
interestedness of a "certain person's" 
attachment before he let all his fond 
and passionate feelings go out towards 
her — [At this point the perspiration 
burst from every pore in the body of 
Tag-rag] — and that no one could de- 
plore the unexpected issue of his 
little experiment so much as now did 
Titmouse. 

Tag-rag really, for a moment, scarcely 
knew where he was, who was with him, 
nor whether he stood on his head or 
his heels, so delightful and entirely 
unexpected was the issue of Mr. Gam- 
mon's visit. As soon as his faculties 



had somewhat recovered themselves 
from their temporary confusion, almost 
breathless, he assured Gammon that 
no event in the whole course of his 
life had occasioned him such poignant 
regret as his treatment of Titmouse on 
the occasion in question ; that he had 
undoubtedly followed unwittingly (he 
was ashamed to own) the example of 
Titmouse, and drunk far more than 
his usual quantity of wine ; besides 
which he had undoubtedly noticed, 
as had Mrs. T., the state of things 
between Mr. Titmouse and his daugh- 
ter, — talking of whom, by the way, 
he could assure Mr. Gammon that 
they had both been ill ever since that 
unfortunate evening, and had never 
ceased to condemn his — Tag-rag's — 
monstrous conduct on that occasion. 
As for his daughter, she was growing 
thinner and thinner every day, and he 
thought he must send her to the coun- 
try for a short time : in fact — poor 
girl ! — she was plainly pining away ! 

To all this Mr. Gammon listened 
with a calm, delightful, sympathizing 
look, that quite transported Tag-rag, 
and satisfied him that Mr. Gammon 
implicitly believed every word that 
was being said to him. But when he 
proceeded to assure Tag-rag that this 
visit of his had been undertaken at 
the earnest instance of Mr. Titmouse 
himself, (who, by the way, had re- 
moved to lodgings which would do 
for the present, so as they were only 
near to their office, for the purpose of 
frequent communication on matters of 
business between him and their firm,) 
who had urged him, Mr. Gammon, to 
tender the olive branch, in the devout 
hope that it might be accepted. 
Tag-rag's excitement knew scarce any 
bounds ; and he could almost have 
started into the shop, and given orders 
to his- shopmen to sell every article, 
for the rest of the day, one and a half 
per cent, under what they had been 
selling before ! Mr. Gammon wrote 
down Titmouse's direction, and assured 
Mr. Tag-rag that a call from him would 
be gratefully received by Mr. Titmouse. 
"There's no accounting for these 
things, Mr. Tag-rag— is there ? " said 
Mr. Gammon, with an arch smile, as 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



179 



he prepared to depart — Tag-rag squeez- 
ing his hands with painful energy as 
Gammon bade him adieu, saying he 
should not be himself for the rest of 
the day, and bowing the aforesaid Mr. 
Gammon down the shop with as pro- 
found an obsequiousness as if he had 
been the Lord High Chancellor, or 
even the Lord Mayor. As soon as 
Gammon had got fairly into the street, 
and to a safe distance, he burst into 
littie gentle paroxysms of laughter, 
every now and then, that lasted him 
till he had regained his office in Saffron 
Hill. 

The motive so boldly and skilfully 
suggested by Gammon to Tag-rag, as 
that impelling Titmouse to seek a re- 
conciliation with him, was greedily 
credited by Tag-rag. 'Tis certainly 
very easy for a man to believe what he 
wishes to be true. "Was it very im- 
probable that Tag-rag, loving only 
one object on earth, (next to money, 
which indeed he really did love with 
the best and holiest energies of his 
nature,) namely, his daughter ; and 
believing her to be possessed of qualities 
calculated to excite every one's love — 
should believe that she had inspired 
Titmouse with the passion of which 
he had just been hearing — a passion 
that was consuming him, that could 
not be quenched by even the gross 

outrage which but faugh ! that 

Tag-rag shuddered to think of. He 
clapped his hat on his head, and 
started off to Titmouse's lodgings, and 
fortunately caught that gentleman just 
as he was going out to dine at a neigh- 
bouring tavern. If Tag-rag had been 
a keen observer, he could hardly have 
failed to discover aversion towards 
himself written in every feature and 
gesture of Titmouse ; and also how 
difficult it was to be concealed. But 
his eagerness overbore everything ; 
and took Titmouse quite by storm. 
Before Tag-rag had done with him, he 
had obliterated every trace of resent- 
ment in his little friend's bosom. 
Thoroughly as Gammon thought he 
had prepared him for t-he encounter, 
and armed him at all points — 'twas of 
no avail. Tag-rag poured such a mon- 
strous quantity of flummery down the 



gaping mouth and insatiate throat of 
the little animal, as at length produced 
its desired effect. Few can resist flat- 
tery, however coarsely administered?; 
but as for Titmouse, he felt the soft fluid 
deliciously insinuating itself into every 
crevice of his little nature, for which 
it seemed, indeed, to have a peculiar 
affinity ; 'twas a balm, 'twas an opiate 
soothing his wounded pride, lubricating 
all his inner man ; nay, flooding it, so 
as at length to extinguish entirely the 
very small glimmering spark of dis- 
cernment which nature had lit in him. 
"To be forewarned, is to be fore- 
armed," says the proverb ; but it was 
not verified, in the present instance. 
Titmouse would have dined at Satin 
Lodge on the very next Sunday, in 
accordance with' the pressing invita- 
tions of Tag-rag, but that he happened 
to recollect having engaged himself 
to dine that evening with Mr. Quirk, 
at his residence in Camberwell, — Alibi 
House. As I have already intimated 
in a previous part of this history, that 
most respectable old gentleman, Mr. 
Quirk, with the shrewdness natural to 
him, and which had been quickened 
by his great experience, had soon seen 
through the ill-contrived and worse- 
concealed designs upon Titmouse of 
Mr. Tag-rag ; and justly considered 
that the surest method of rendering 
them abortive would be to familiarize 
Titmouse with a superior style of 
things, such as was to be found at 
Alibi House — and a more lovely and 
attractive object for his best affections 
in Miss Quirk — Dora Quirk, the lustre 
of whose charms and accomplishments 
there could be no doubt, he thought, 
would instantly efface the image of 
that poor, feeble, vulgar creature, Miss 
Tag-rag ; for such old Quirk knew her 
to be, though he had, in fact, never 
for a moment set eyes upon her. Mr. 
Tag-rag looked rather blank at hearing 
of the grand party there was to be at 
Alibi House, and that Titmouse was to 
be introduced to the only daughter of 
Mr. Quirk, and could not, for the life 
of him, abstain from dropping some- 
thing, vague and indistinct to be sure, 
about " entrapping unsuspecting inno- 
cence," and "interested attentions," 

K 2 



180 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



and other similar expressions — all of 
which, however, were lost upon Tit- 
mouse. Tapping with an auctioneer's 
hammer on a block of granite, would 
make about as much impression upon 
it as hint, innuendo, or suggestion, 
upon a blockhead. So it was with 
Titmouse. He promised to dine at 
Satin Lodge on the Sunday after, with 
which poor Mr. Tag-rag was obliged 
to depart content ; having been unable 
to get Titmouse up to Clapham on 
either of the intervening evenings, on 
which, he told Mr. Tag-rag, he was 
particularly engaged with an intimate 
friend — in fact, one of his solicitors ; 
and Tag-rag left him, after shaking 
him by the hand with the utmost 
cordiality and energy. He instantly 
conceived a lively hatred of old Mr. 
Quirk and his daughter, who seemed 
taking so unfair an advantage . How- 
ever, what could be done ? Many 
times during his interview, did he 
anxiously turn about in his mind the 
expediency of proffering to lend or 
give Titmouse a five-pound note, of 
which he had one or two in his pocket- 
book ; but no — 'twas too much for 
human nature — he could not bring 
himself to it ; and quitted Titmouse 
as rich a man as he had entered his 
lodgings. 

The gentleman to whom Titmouse 
alluded was in fact Mr. Snap, who had 
early evinced a great partiality for 
him, and lost no opportunity of con- 
tributing to his enjoyment. He was 
a sharp-sighted person, and quickly 
detected many qualities in Titmouse 
kindred to his own. He sincerely 
commiserated Titmouse's situation, 
than which what could be more lonely 
and desolate * "Was he to sit night 
after night, in the lengthening nights 
of autumn and winter, with not a 
soul to speak to, not a book to read, 
(that was at least interesting or worth 
reading ; ) nothing, in short, to occupy 
his attention? "No," said Snap to 
himself ; "I will do as I would be 
done by ; I will come and draw him 
out of his dull hole ; I will show him 
life — I will give him an early insight 
into the habits and practices of the 
great world, in which he is so soon to 



cut a leading figure ! I will early famil- 
iarize him with the gayest and most ex- 
citing modes of London life !" The very 
first taste of this cup of pleasure, was 
exquisitely relished by Titmouse ; and 
he felt a proportionate gratitude to 
him whose kind hand had first raised 
it to his lips. Scenes of which he had 
heretofore only heard and read — after 
which he had often sighed and yearned, 
were now opening daily before him, 
limited as were his means ; and he 
felt perfectly happy. AVhen Snap had 
finished the day's labours of the office, 
from which he was generally released 
about eight or nine o'clock in the 
evening, he would repair to his lodg- 
ings, and decorate himself for the 
evening's display ; after which, either 
he would go to Titmouse, or Titmouse 
come to him, as might have been, 
previously agreed upon between them ; 
and then, — 

"The town was all before theni, where to 
choose." 

Sometimes they would, arm in arm, 
each with his cigar in his mouth, 
saunter for hours together along the 
leading streets and thoroughfares, 
making acute observations and deep 
reflections upon the ever-moving and 
motley scenes around them. Most 
frequently, however, they would re- 
pair, at half-price, to the theatres ; for 
Snap had the means of securing almost 
a constant supply of " orders " from 
the underlings of the theatres, and 
also in respect to the Sunday Flash, 
with which Messrs. Quirk and Gam- 
mon were connected, and other news- 
papers. Ah, 'twas a glorious sight to 
see these two gentlemen saunter into 
a vacant box, conscious that the eyes 
of two-thirds of the house were fixed 
upon them in admiration, and con- 
ducting themselves accordingly — as 
swells of the first water ! One such 
night counterbalanced, in Titmouse's 
estimation, a whole year of his 
previous obscurity and wretchedness ! 
The theatre over, they would repair to 
some cloudy tavern, full of noise and 
smoke, and the glare of gas-light- 
redolent of_ the fragrant fumes of 
tobacco, spirits, and porter inter- 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



181 



mingled with the tempting odours of 
smoking kidneys, mutton-chops, beef- 
steaks, oysters, stewed cheese, toasted 
cheese, Welsh rabbits; where those who 
are chained to the desk and the counter 
during the day, revel in the license of 
the hour, and eat, and drink, and 
smoke to the highest point either of 
excitement or stupefaction, and enter 
into all the slang of the day — of the 
turf, the ring, the cockpit, the 
theatres, and shake their sides at comic 
songs. To enter one of these places 
when the theatre was over, was a lux- 
ury indeed to Titmouse ; figged out in 
his very uttermost best, with satin 
stock and double breastpins ; his glossy 
hat cocked on one side of his head, 
his tight blue surtout, with the snowy 
handkerchief elegantly drooping out 
of the breast pocket ; straw-coloured 
kid gloves, tight trousers, and shining 
boots ; his ebony silver-headed cane 
held carelessly under his arm : to 
walk into the middle of the room with 
a sort of haughty ease and indifference, 
or nonchalance ; and after deliberately 
scanning, through his eyeglass, every 
box, with its occupants, at length 
drop into a vacant nook, and with a 
languid air summon the bustling waiter 
to receive his commands. The circum- 
stance of his almost always accom- 
panying Snap on these occasions, who 
was held in great awe by the waiters, to 
whom his professional celebrity was 
well known, (for there was scarce an 
interesting, a dreadful, or a nasty 
scene at any of the police-offices, in 
which Snap's name did not figure in 
the newspapers as "on behalf of the 
prisoner,") got Titmouse almost an 
equal share of consideration, and aided 
the effect produced by his own com- 
manding appearance. As for Snap, 
whenever he was asked who his com- 
panion was, he would whisper in a very 
significant tone and manner, — " Devil- 
ish high chap ! " From these places 
they would repair, not unfrequently, 
to certain other scenes of nightly 
London life, which, I thank God ! the 
virtuous reader can form no notion 
of, though they are, strange to say, 
winked at, if not patronized by the 
police and magistracy, till the metro- 



polis is choked with them. Thus would 
Snap and Titmouse pleasantly pass away 
their time till one, two, three, and often 
four o'clock in the morning ; at which 
hours they would, with many yawns, 
skulk homewards through the deserted 
and silent streets, their clothes redo- 
lent of tobacco smoke, their stomachs 
overcharged, their heads often mud- 
dled, swimming, and throbbing with 
their multifarious potations — having 
thus spent a "jolly night," and "seen 
life." 'Twas thus that Snap greatly 
endeared himself to Titmouse, and 
secretly (for he enjoined upon Tit- 
mouse, as the condition of their con- 
tinuance, strict secrecy on the subject 
of these nocturnal adventures) stole 
a march upon his older competitors 
for the good opinion of Titmouse 
— Messrs. Quirk, Tag-rag, and even 
the astute and experienced Gammon 
himself. Such doings as these required, 
however, as may easily be believed, 
some slight augmentations of the al- 
lowance made to Titmouse by Messrs. 
Quirk and Gammon ; and 'twas for- 
tunate that Snap was in a condition, 
having a few hundreds at his com- 
mand, to supply the necessities of Tit- 
mouse, receiving with a careless air, 
on the occasion of such advances, 
small slips of paper by way of acknow- 
ledgments ; some on stamped paper, 
others on unstamped paper — promis- 
sory-notes and I. 0. U.'s. Inasmuch, 
however, as Snap was not always pos- 
sessed of a stamp on the occasion of a 
sudden advance, and having asked the 
opinion of his pleader (a sharp fellow 
who had been articled at the same 
time as himself to Messrs. Quirk and 
Gammon) as to whether an instrument 
in this form — 

" I. 0. U. so much — with interest," 
would be available without a stamp, 
and being informed that it was a very 
doubtful point, Snap ingeniously met 
the difficulty by quietly adding to the 
principal what might become due in 
respect of interest : e. g. if £5 were 
lent, the acknowledgment would stand 
for £15 — these little slips of paper 
being generally signed by Titmouse in 
moments of extreme exhilaration, 
when he never thought of scrutinizing 



182 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



anything that his friend Snap would 
lay before him. For the honour of 
Snap, I must say that I hardly think 
he deliberately purposed to perpetrate 
the fraud which such a transaction 
appears to amount to ; all he wanted 
was — so he satisfied himself at least — 
to have it in his power to recover the 
full amount of principal really ad- 
vanced, with interest, on one or other of 
these various securities, and hold the 
surplus as trustee for Titmouse. If, 
for instance, any unfortunate difference 
should hereafter arise between himself 
and Titmouse, and he should refuse to 
recognise his pecuniary obligations to 
Snap, the latter gentleman would be 
provided with short and easy proofs of 
his demands against him. Twas thus, 
I say, that Snap rendered himself 
indispensable to Titmouse, whom he 
bound to him by every tie of grati- 
tude ; so that, in short, they became 
sworn friends. 

I will always say for Gammon, that 
he strenuously endeavoured, from 
whatever motive, to urge upon Tit- 
mouse the necessity of his acquiring, 
at all events, a smattering of the 
elements of useful education. Beyond 
an acquaintance with the petty opera- 
tions of arithmetic requisite for counter- 
transactions, I will venture to say that 
poor Titmouse had no serviceable 
knowledge of any kind. Mr. Gammon 
repeatedly pressed him to put him- 
self under competent teachers of the 
ordinary branches of education ; but 
Titmouse as often evaded him, and 
at length flatly refused to do anything 
of the kind. He promised, however, 
to read such books as Mr. Gammon 
might recommend, who thereupon 
sent him several : but a book before 
Titmouse was much the same as a 
plate of saw-dust before a hungry man. 
Mr. Gammon, himself a man of con- 
siderable acquirements, soon saw the 
true state of the case, and gave up 
his attempts in despair and disgust. 
Not that he ever suffered Titmouse to 
perceive the faintest indication of such 
feelings towards him ; on the con- 
trary, Gammon ever manifested the 
same bland and benignant demeanour, 
consulting his wishes in everything, 



and striving to instil into him feel- 
ings of love, tempered by respect, 
as towards the most powerful — the 
only real, disinterested friend he 
had : and to a very great extent he 
succeeded. 

Titmouse spent several hours in pre- 
paring for an effective first appearance 
at the dinner-table at Alibi House. 
Since dining at Satin Lodge, he had 
considerably increased his wardrobe 
both in quantity and style. He now 
sported a pair of tight black trousers, 
with pumps and gossamer silk stock- 
ings. He wore a crimson velvet 
waistcoat, with a bright blue satin 
under-waistcoat, a shirt-frill standing 
out somewhat fiercely at right angles 
with his breast, and a brown dress- 
coat cut in the extreme of the fashion, 
the long tails coming to a point just 
about the backs of his knees. His 
hair (its purple hue still pretty dis- 
tinctly perceptible) was disposed with 
great elegance. He had discarded 
mustaches ; but had a very promising 
imperial. The hair underneath his 
chin came out curling on each side of 
it, above his stock, like two little tufts 
or horns. Over his waistcoat he wore 
his mosaic-gold watch-guard, and a 
broad black watered riband, to which 
was attached his eyeglass — in fact, if 
he had dressed himself in order to sit 
to a miniature painter for his likeness, 
he could not have taken greater pains, 
or secured a more successful result. 
The only points about his appearance 
with which he was at all dissatisfied, 
were his hair — which was not yet the 
thing which he hoped in due time to 
see it — his thick red stumpy hands, 
and his round shoulders. The last 
matter gave him considerable concern, 
for he felt that it seriously interfered 
with a graceful carriage ; and that the 
defect in his figure had been, after all, 
not in the least remedied by the pro- 
digious padding of his coat. His pro- 
tuberant eyes, of very light hue, had 
an expression that entirely harmonized 
with that of his open mouth ; and 
both together— quite independently of 
his dress, carriage, and demeanour— 

(there is nothing like being candid) 

gave you the image of a— complete 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



183 



fool. Having at length carefully ad- 
ju.stod liis hat on his head, and drawn 
on his white kid gloves, lie enveloped 
himself in a stylish cloak, with long 
black silk tassels, which had been 
lent to him by Snap ; and about four 
o'clock, forth sallied Mr. Titmouse, 
carefully picking his way, in quest of 
the first coach that could convey him 
to Alibi House, or as near to it as 
might be. He soon found one, and, 
conscious that his appearance was far 
too splendid for an outside place, got 
inside. All the way along, his heart 
was in a little flutter of vanity, excite- 
ment, and expectation. He was going 
to be introduced to Miss Quirk — and 
probably, also, to several people of 
great consequence — as the heir-ap- 
parent to £10,000 a-year ! Two very 
respectable female passengers, his com- 
panions all the way, he never once 
deigned to interchange a syllable with. 
Four or five times did he put his head 
out of the window, calling out, in a 
loud peremptory tone — -"Mind, coach- 
man — Alibi House — Mr. Quirk's — 
Alibi House — Do you hear, demme?" 
After which he would sink back into 
the seat with a magnificent air, as if 
he had not been used to give him- 
self so much trouble. The coach at 
length stopped. "Hallibi Ouse, sir," 
said the coachman, in a most re- 
spectful tone — "this is Mr. Quirk's, 
sir." Titmouse stepped out, dropped 
eighteenpence into the man's hand, 
and opening the gate, found himself 
in a straight and narrow gravel walk, 
of about twenty yards in length, with 
little obstinate-looking stunted shrub's 
on each side. 'Twas generally known, 
among Mr. Quirk's friends, by the 
name of the Rope-walk. Titmouse 
might have entered before as fine- 
looking a house, but only to deliver a 
bundle of drapery or hosiery : never 
before had he entered such a one as a 
guest. It was, in fact, a fair-sized 
house, at least treble that of Satin 
Lodge, and had a far more stylish ap- 
pearance. When Titmouse pulled the 
bell, the door was quickly plucked 
open by a big footman, with showy 
shoulder-knot and a pair of splendid 
red plush breeches, who soon disposed 



of Titmouse's cloak and hat, and led 
the way to the drawing-room, before 
our friend, with a sudden palpitation 
of the heart, had had a moment's time 
even to run his hands through his hair. 

"Your name, sir?" enquired the 
man, suddenly pausing — with his hand 
upon the handle of the door. 

"Mr. Titmouse." 

"I — beg your pardon, sir; what 
name ? " 

Titmouse, clearing his throat, re- 
peated his name — -open went the door, 
and — "Mr. Ticklemouse," said the 
servant very loudly and distinctly — 
ushering in Titmouse ; on whom the 
door was the next instant closed. He 
felt amazingly flustered — and he would 
have been still more so, if he could 
have been made aware of the titter 
which pervaded the fourteen or twenty 
people assembled in the room, occa- 
sioned by the droll misnomer of the 
servant, and the exquisitely ridiculous 
appearance of poor Titmouse. Mr. 
Quirk, dressed in black, with knee 
breeches and silk stockings, immedi- 
ately bustled up to him, shook him 
cordially by the hand, and led him up 
to the assembled guests. "My daugh- 
ter — Miss Quirk ; Mrs. Alderman 
Addlehead ; Mrs. Deputy Diddle- 
daddle ; Mrs. Alias, my sister ; — Mr. 
Alderman Addlehead ; Mr. Deputy 
Diddle-daddle ; Mr. Bluster; Mr. 
Slang ; Mr. Hug ; Mr. Flaw ; Mr. 
Viper ; Mr. Ghastly ; Mr. Gammon 
you know." Miss Quirk was about 
four or five-and-twenty — a fat young 
lady, with flaxen hair curled formally 
all over her head and down to her shoul- 
ders, so that she very much resembled 
one of those great wax dolls seen in 
bazaars and shop windows, especially 
if looked at through a strong magnify- 
ing glass. Her complexion was beauti- 
fully fair ; her eyes small ; her face 
quite round and fat. From the die- 
away manner in which she moved her 
head, and the languid tone of her 
voice, it was obvious that she was a 
very sentimental young lady. She 
was dressed in white, and wore a mas- 
sive gold chain — her fat arms being half 
covered with long kid gloves. She 
I was sitting on the sofa, from which 



184 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



she did not rise when Titmouse was 
introduced to her — and the moment 
after hid her face behind the album 
which had been lying on her knee, 
and which she had been showing to 
the ladies on each side of her ; for, in 
fact, neither she nor any one else could, 
without the greatest difficulty, refrain 
from laughing at the monkeyfied ap- 
pearance of Titmouse. The Alderman 
was a stout, stupid, little man— a fussy 
old prig — with small angry-looking 
black eyes, and a short red nose : as 
for his head, it seemed as though he 
had just smeared some sticky fluid 
over it, and then dipped it into a flour 
tub, so thickly laden was it with 
powder. Mr. Deputy Diddle-daddle 
was tall and thin, and serious and 
slow of speech, with the solemn com- 
posure of an undertaker. Mr. Bluster 
was a great Old Bailey barrister, about 
fifty years old, the leader constantly 
employed by Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap ; and was making at least a 
thousand, a-year. He had an amaz- 
ingly truculent-looking countenance, 
coarse to a degree, and his voice 
matched it ; but on occasions like the 
present — i. e. in elegant society — he 
would fain drop the successful terrors 
of his manner, and appear the mild, 
dignified gentleman. He therefore 
spoke in a very soft, cringing way, 
with an anxious smile ; but his bold 
insolent eye and coarse mouth — what 
could disguise or mitigate their ex- 
pression ? Here he was, playing the 
great man ; making himself, however, 
most particularly agreeable to Messrs. 
Quirk and Gammon. Slang was of 
the same school ; fat, vulgar, confi- 
dent, and empty ; telling obscene jokes 
and stories, in a deep bass voice. He 
sang a good song, too — particularly of 
that class which required the absence 
of ladies — and of gentlemen. Hug (Mr. 
Toady Hug) was also a barrister ; a 
glib little Jewish- looking fellow, creep- 
ing into considerable criminal practice. 
He was a sneaking backbiter, and had 
a blood-hound scent after an attorney. 
See him, for instance, at this moment, 
in close and eager conversation with 
Mr. Flaw, who, rely upon it, will give 
him a brief before the week is over. 



Viper was the editor of the Sunday 
Flash ; a cold, venomous, little fellow. 
He was of opinion that everything 
was wrong — moral, physical, intellec- 
tual, and social ; that there was really 
no such thing, or at least ought not 
to be, as religion ; and, as to political 
rights, that everybody ought to be 
uppermost at once. He had failed in 
business twice, and disreputably ; 
then had become an Unitarian parson ; 
but, having seduced a young female 
member of his congregation, he was 
expelled from his pulpit. An action 
being brought against him by the 
mother of his victim, and heavy dam- 
ages obtained, he attempted to take 
the benefit of the Insolvent Debtors' 

Act — but, on account of Miss , 

was remanded for eighteen months. 
That period he employed in writing 
a shockingly blasphemous work, for 
which he was prosecuted, and sen- 
tenced to a heavy fine and imprison- 
ment ; on being released from which, 
saturated with gall and bitterness 
against all mankind, he took to politi- 
cal writing of a very violent character, 
and was at length picked up, half 
starved, by his present patron, Mr. 
Quirk, and made editor of the Sunday 
Flash. Is not all this history written 
in his sallow, sinister-eyed, bitter- 
expressioned countenance ? Woe to 
him who gets into a discussion with 
Viper ! There were one or two others 
present, particularly a Mr. Ohastly, a 
third-rate tragic actor, with a tre- 
mendous mouth, only one eye, and a 
very hungry look. He never spoke, 
because no one spoke to him, for his 
clothes seemed rather rusty-black. 
The only man of gentlemanlike appear- 
ance in the room was Mr. Gammon ; 
and he took an early opportunity of 
engaging poor Titmouse in conversa- 
tion, and setting him comparatively 
at his ease— a thing which was at- 
tempted by old Quirk, but in such a 
fidgety-fussy way as served only to 
fluster Titmouse the more. Mr Quirk 
gave a dinner party of this sort regu- 
larly every Sunday ; and they formed 
the happiest moments of his life— oc- 
casions on which he banished from his 
thoughts the responsible anxieties of 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



186 



his profession, and, surrounded by a 
select circle of choice spirits, such as 
were thus collected together, partook 
joyously of the 

"Feast of reason, and the flow of soul." 

" "This is a very beautiful picture, 
Titmouse, isn't it?" said Gammon, 
leading him to the further corner of 
the drawing-room, where hung a small 
picture with a sort of curtain of black 
gauze before it, which Gammon lifting 
up, Titmouse beheld a picture of a 
man suspended from the gallows, his 
hands tied with cords before him, his 
head forced aside, and covered down 
to the chin with a white nightcap. 
'Twas done with sickening fidelity, 
and Titmouse gazed at it with a 
shudder. "Charming thing, isn't 
it ? " said Gammon with a very expres- 
sive smile. 

"Y — e — e — s," replied Titmouse, 
his eyes glued to the horrid object. 

"Very striking, a'n't it?" quoth 
Quirk, bustling up to them; "'twas 
painted for me by a first-rate artist, 
whose brother I very nearly saved 
from the gallows ! Like such things ? " 
he enquired with a matter-of-fact air, 
drawing down the black gauze. 

"Yes, sir, uncommon — most un- 
common." 

"Well, I'll show you something 
very interesting ! Heard of Gilderoy, 
that was hanged last year for forgery ? 
Gad, my daughter's got a brooch with 
a lock of his hair in it, which he gave 
me himself — a client of mine : within 
an ace of getting him off — flaw in the 
indictment — found it out myself — did, 
by gad ! Come along, and I'll get 
Dora to show it to you ! " and, putting 
Titmouse's arm in his, he led him up 
to the interesting young lady. 

"Dora, just show my friend Tit- 
mouse that brooch of yours, with 
G ilderoy ' s hair. ' ' 

'"Oh, my dear papa, 'tis such a 
melancholy thing ! " said she, at the 
same time detaching it from her dress, 
and handing it to her papa, who, 
holding it in bis hands, gave Titmouse, 
and one or two others who stood beside, 
a very interesting account of the last 
hours of the deceased Gilderoy. 



"He was very handsome, papa, 
wasn't he ? " enquired Miss Quirk with 
a sigh, and a very pensive air. 

"Wasn't bad-looking; but good 
looks and the condemned cell don't 
long agree together." 

"Ah, papa ! " exclaimed Miss Quirk 
in a mournful tone, and, leaning back 
in the sofa, raised her handkerchief to 
her eyes. 

"You are too sensitive, my love ! " 
whispered her aunt, Mrs. Alias, squeez- 
ing the hand of her niece, who, strag- 
gling against her feelings, presently 
revived. 

"We were looking just now," said 
Mr. Hug, addressing Mr. Quirk, " at 
a very interesting addition to Miss 
Quirk's album — that letter of Grizzle- 
gut." 

"Ah, very striking! Value it be- 
yond everything ! Shall never forget 
Grizzlegut ! Very nearly got off ! 
'Twas an '&c.' that nearly saved his 
life, through being omitted in the 
indictment. 'Fore gad, we thought 
we'd got 'em ! " 

They were alluding to an autograph 
letter which had been addressed to 
Mr. Quirk by Grizzlegut, (who had 
been executed for high treason a few 
weeks before,) the night before he 
suffered. He was a blood-stained 
scoundrel of the deepest dye, and 
ought to have been hanged and quar- 
tered half-a-dozen times. 

"Will you read it aloud, Mr. Hug ?" 
enquired Miss Quirk ; and the barris- 
ter, in a somewhat pompous tone, read 
the following memorable document : — 

"Condemned Cell, Newgate, 
"Friday night, half -past 11 o'clock, 
" 1st Hay, 18—. 
"Sir, 

"At this awful moment, when this 
world is closing rapidly upon me and 
my fellow-sufferers, and the sounds of 
the wretches putting up the Grim 
Gallows are audible to my listening 
ears, and on the morrow the most 
horrible death that malicious tyrants 
can inflict awaits me, my soul being 
calm and full of fortitude, and beating 
responsive to the call of Glorious 
Liberty, I feel prouder than the King 



186 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



upon his throne. I feel that I have 
done much to secure the liberties of 
my injured country. 

' For Liberty, glorious Liberty, 
Who'd fear to die ? ' 

Many thanks to you, sir, for your truly 
indefatigable efforts on my behalf, and 
the constant exercise of a skill that 
nearly secured us a Glorious Acquittal. 
What a Flame we would have raised 
in England ! That should have blasted 
the enemies of True Freedom. I go 
to Hereafter, (if, indeed, there be a 
hereafter,) as we shall soon know, not 
with my soul crammed with Priest- 
craft, but a Bold Briton, having laid 
down my life for my country, knowing 
that Future Ages will do me Justice. 

"Adieu, Tyrants, adieu! Do your 
worst ! ! My soul defies you ! ! ! 
" I am, Sir, 

"Your humble, obliged, and 
"undismayed servant, 
"Arthur Grizzlegtjt. 

"To Caleb Quirk, Esq. 

"Tyrants grim 
Will on the morrow cut me limb from 

limb, 
While Liberty looks on with terrible eye, 
And says, 1 will avenge him by-ancl-by." 

"Arthur Grizzlegtjt." 

The reading of the above produced 
a great sensation. " That man's name 
will be enrolled among the Sidneys 
and the Hampdens of his country ! " 
said Viper, with a grim and excited 
air. "That letter deserves to be 
cai'ved on a golden tablet ! The last 
four lines are sublime ! He was a 
martyr to principles that are silently 
and rapidly making their way in this 
country." — How much further he 
would have gone on in this strain, 
seeing no one present had resolution 
enough to differ with or interrupt him, 
even if they had been so disposed, I 
know not ; but fortunately dinner was 
announced — a sound which startled 
old Quirk out of a posture of intense 
attention to Yiper, and evident ad- 
miration of his sentiments. He gave 
his arm with an air of prodigious 
politeness to the gaunt Mrs. Alder- 
man Addlehead, whose distinguished 



lord led down Miss Quirk— and the 
rest followed in no particular order- 
Titmouse arm in arm with Gammon, 
who took care to place him next to 
himself, (Gammon.) It was really a 
dashing sort of dinner. Quirk had, 
indeed, long teen celebrated for his 
Sunday dinners. Titmouse had never 
seen anything like it ; and was quite 
bewildered — particularly at the num- 
ber of differently shaped and coloured 
glasses, &c. &c. &c, placed opposite 
to him. He kept a constant eye on 
the movements of Gammon, and did 
whatever he did, as if the two had 
been moved by the same set of springs, 
and was thus saved innumerable em- 
barrassments and annoyances. What 
chiefly struck his attention was a pro- 
digious number of dishes, great and 
small, as if half-a-dozen dinners had 
been crowded into one ; the rapidity 
with which they were changed, and 
plates removed, in constant succession ; 
the incessant invitations to take wine 
that were flying about during the 
whole of dinner. For a considerable 
while Titmouse was too much flurried 
to enjoy himself ; but a few glasses of 
champagne succeeded in elevating his 
spirits to the proper pitch — and would 
soon have driven them far beyond it. 
Almost everybody, except the great 
folk at the top of the table, asked him 
to take wine ; and he constantly filled 
his glass. In fact Gammon, recollect- 
ing a scene at his own chamber, soon 
perceived that, unless he interfered, 
Titmouse would be drunk long before 
dinner was over. He had not imagined 
the earth to contain so exquisite a drink 
as champagne ; and he could have 
fallen down and worshipped it, as it 
came fizzing and flashing out of the 
bottle. Gammon earnestly assured 
him that he would be ill if he drunk 
so much — that many eyes were upon 
him — and that it was not the custom 
to do more than merely sip from his 
wine-glass when challenging or chal- 
lenged. But Titmouse had taken a 
considerably greater quantity on board, 
before Gammon thus interfered, than 
that gentleman was aware of, and 
began to get very voluble. Guess the 
progress he had made, when he called 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



187 



out with a confident air — " Mr. Alder- 
man ! Your health ! " — whether more 
to that great man's astonishment or 
disgust I cannot undertake to say : 
but after a steady stare for a moment 
or two at Titmouse, "Oh ! I shall be 
very happy, indeed, Mr. Gammon," 
he called out, looking at the latter 
gentleman, and drinking with him. 
That signified nothing, however, to 
Titmouse, who, indeed, did not see 
anything at all pointed or unusual, 
and gulped down his wine as eagerly 
as before. 

"Cool puppy, that, Miss Quirk, 
must say," snuffled the offended 
Alderman to Miss Quirk. 

" He's young, dear Mr. Alderman," 
said she, sweetly and mildly — "and 
when you consider the immense for- 
tune he is coming into — ten thousand 
a-year, my papa says- 



' That don't make him less a puppy 
— nor a brute," interrupted the ruffled 
Alderman, still more indignant ; for 
his own forty thousand pounds, the 
source of all his social eminence, sunk 
into insignificance at the sound of the 
splendid income just about to drop 
into the lap of Titmouse. Mr. Bluster, 
who headed the table on Miss Quirk's 
left-hand side, and who felt that he 
ought to be, but knew that in the pre-, 
sence of the Alderman he was not, 
the great man of the day, observing 
the irritation under which his rival 
was suffering, immediately raised his 
threatening double-glasses to his eyes, 
and in a tone of ostentatious conde- 
scension, looking down the table to 
Titmouse, called out, "Mr. Titmash 
— may 1 have the honour of drinking 
wine with you ? " 

" Ya — as, brother Bumptious," re- 
plied Titmouse, who could never bear 
to hear his name mis- pronounced, and 
he raised his glass to his eye ; "was 
just going to ask you ! " All this was 
done in such a loud and impudent 
tone and manner, as made Gammon 
still more uneasy for his young com- 
panion. But his sally had been re- 
ceived by the company as a very smart 
retort, and produced a roar of laughter, 
every one being glad to see Mr. Bluster 
snubbed, who bore it in silent dignity, 



though his face showed his chagrin and 
astonishment ; and he very heartily 
agreed, for once in his life, with the 
worshipful person opposite to him in 
his estimate of our friend Titmouse. 
"Mr. Titmouse! Mr. Titmouse! my 
daughter wonders you won't take wine 
with her," said Mr. Quirk in a low 
tone — "will you join us ? we're going 
to take a glass of champagne." 

"Oh! 'pon my life— delighted " — 
quoth Titmouse. 

"Dora, my dear! Mr. Titmouse 
will take wine with you !— Jack," (to 
the servant,) "fill Miss Quirk's and 
Mr. Titmouse's glasses to the brim." 

" Oh no ! dearest papa." 

"Pho! pho ! — nonsense — the first 
time of asking, you know, ah, ha ! " 

""Well! If it must be," and with 
what a graceful inclination— with what 
a sly searching glance, and fascinating 
smile, did she exchange courtesies with 
Titmouse ! He felt disposed to take 
wine with her a second time immedi- 
ately ; but Gammon restrained him. 
Mr. Toady Hug, having become ac- 
quainted with the brilliant prospects 
of Titmouse, earnestly desired to exert 
his little talents to do the agreeable, 
and ingratiate himself with Mr. Tit- 
mouse ; but there was a counteracting 
force in another direction, the attorney, 
Mr. Flaw, who had the greatest prac- 
tice at the Clerkenwell sessions, sat 
beside him, and received his most 
respectful and incessant attentions ; 
Hug speaking ever to him in a low 
confidential whisper, constantly cast- 
ing a furtive glance towards Bluster 
and Slang, to see whether they were 
observing him. In " strict confidence " 
he assured Mr. Flaw how his case,- the 
other day, might have been won, if 
such and such a course had been 
adopted, "which would have been 
the line he" (Hug) "would have 
taken ; " and which he explained with 
anxious energy. "I must say, Flip 
regularly threw the case away — no 
doubt of it ! By the way, what be- 
came of that burglary case of yours, 
on Friday ? " 

"Found guilty, poor fellows I " 

" You don't say so ? " 

"Fact, by Jove, though ! " 



188 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



"How could Gobble have lost that 
verdict ? I assure you I would have 
bet ten to one on your getting a 
verdict ; for I read over your brief as 
it lay beside me, and upon my honour, 
Mr. Flaw, it was most admirably got 
up. Everything depends on the 
brief " 

"Glad you thought so, sir," replied 
Flaw, wondering how it was that he 
had never before thought of giving a 
brief to Mr. Hug. 

" It's a great mistake of counsel not 
to pay the utmost attention to their 
briefs. For my part, " continued Mr. 
Hug, in a still lower tone, ' ' I make a 
point of reading every syllable in my 
brief, however long it is. " 

"It's the only way, depend on it, 
sir. We attorneys, you know, see and 
know so much of the case, conversing 
confidentially with the prisoners " 

" Ay, and beyond that. Your prac- 
tical suggestions, my dear sir, are 

often Now, for instance, in the 

brief I was alluding to, there was, I 
recollect — one most — uncommonly 
acute suggestion." 

" Which was it, sir ? " enquired the 
attorney briskly, his countenance show- 
ing the progress of Hug's lubricating 
process. 

" Oh — why — a — a — hem ! " stam- 
mered Hug, somewhat nonplussed — 
"No; it would hardly be fair to 
Gobble, and I'm sorry indeed " 

" Well, well — it can't be helped 
now — but I must say that once or 
twice latterly I've thought, myself, 

that Mr. Gobble has rather By the 

way, Mr. Hug, shall you be in town 
this week, till the end of the sessions ? " 

"Ye — e — s ! " hastily whispered 
Hug, after glancing guiltily towards 
his brethren, who, though they did 
not seem to do so, were really watch- 
ing him closely. 

" I'm happy to hear it !— You've 
heard of Aaron Doodle, who was com- 
mitted for that burglary at ? 

Well, 1 defend him, and shall be 
happy to give you the brief. Do you 
lead Mr. Dolt ? " Hug nodded. "Then 
he will be your junior. Where are 
your chambers, Mr. Hug ? " 

"No. 4, Cant Court, Gray's Inn. 



When, my dear sir, does the case come 
on ? " 

" Thursday — perhaps Wednesday." 

" Then do come and breakfast with 
me, and we can talk it over, you know, 
so nicely together." 

"Sir, you're very polite. I will do 
myself the pleasure — " replied Mr. 
Flaw — and took wine with Mr. Hug. 

This little stroke of business over, 
the disengaged couple were at liberty 
to attend to the general conversation 
of the table. Mr. Bluster and Mr. 
Slang kept the company in almost a 
constant roar, with descriptions of 
scenes in court, in which they had, of 
course, been the principal actors ; and 
according to their own accounts they 
must be wonderful fellows. Such 
botherers of judges ! — Such bafflers and 
browbeaters of witnesses ! — Such bam- 
boozlers of juries ! 

You should have seen the sneering 
countenance of Hug all the while. He 
never once smiled or laughed at the 
brilliant sallies of his brethren, and 
did his best to prevent his new patron, 
Mr. Flaw, from doing so — constantly 
putting his hand before his mouth, 
and whispering into Mr. Flaw's ear at 
the very point of the joke or story — 
and the smile would disappear from 
the countenance of Mr. Flaw. 

The alderman laughed till the tears 
ran out of his little eyes, which he 
constantly wiped with his napkin. 
Amidst the general laughter and ex- 
citement, Miss Quirk, leaning her chin 
on her hand, her elbow resting on the 
table,^ several times directed soft, lan- 
guishing looks towards Titmouse, un- 
observed by any one but himself ; and 
they were not entirely unsuccessful, 
although Titmouse was wonderfully 
taken with the stories of the two coun- 
sellors, and believed them to be two of 
the greatest men he had ever seen or 
heard of, and at the head of their 
profession. 

"Ton my soul— I hope, sir, you'll 
have those two gents in my case?" 
said he earnestly to Gammon. 

" Unfortunately, your case will not 
come on m their courts," said Gammon, 
with a very expressive smile. 

"Why, can't it come on where I 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



189 



choose ? — or when you like ? " enquired 
Titmouse surprisedly. 

Mr. Quirk had been soured during 
the whole of dinner, for hehad anxiously 
desired to have Titmouse sit beside 
him at the bottom of the table ; but 
in the little hubbub attendant upon 
coming down to dinner and taking 
places, Titmouse slipped out of sight 
for a minute ; and when all were 
placed, Quirk's enraged eye perceived 
him seated in the middle of the table, 
beside Gammon. Gammon always got 
hold of Titmouse. Old Quirk could 
have flung a decanter at his head. — 
In his own house ! — at his own table ! 
Always anticipating and circumventing 
him. 

"Mr. Quirk, I don't think we've 
taken a glass of wine together yet, have 
we ? " said Gammon with a bland and 
cordial manner, at the same time pour- 
ing himself out a glass of wine. He 
perfectly well knew what was annoying 
his respected partner, whose look of 
quaint embarrassment, when so sud- 
denly assailed, infinitely amused him. 
"Catch me asking you here again, 
Master Gammon," thought Quirk, 
"the next time that Titmouse dines 
here ! " The reason why Mr. Snap 
had not been asked was, that Quirk 
had some slight cause to suspect his 
having conceived the notion of paying 
his addresses to Miss Quirk — a thing 
at any time not particularly palatable 
to Mr. Quirk ; but in the present con- 
juncture of circumstances quite out of 
the question, and intolerable even in 
idea. Snap was not slow in guessing 
the reason of his exclusion, which 
had greatly mortified, and also not a 
little alarmed him. As far as he- 
could venture, he had, during the 
week, endeavoured to " set " Titmouse 
" against " Miss Quirk, by such faint 
disparaging remarks and insinuations 
as he dared venture upon with so 
difficult a subject as Titmouse, whom 
he at the same time inflamed by repre- 
sentations of the splendid matches he 
might very soon command among the 
highest women of the land. By these 
means Snap had, to a certain extent, 
succeeded ; but the few melting glances 
which had fallen upon Titmouse's 



sensitive bosom from the eyes of Miss 
Quirk, were beginning to operate a 
slight change in his feelings. The old 
alderman, on an intimation that the 
" ladies were going to withdraw," laid 
violent hands on Miss Quirk, (he was 
a "privileged " old fool,) and insisted 
on her singing his favourite song, — 
"My Friend and Pitcher." His re- 
quest was so warmly seconded by the 
rest of the company, Titmouse as loud 
and eager as any, that she was fain to 
comply. She sung with some sweet- 
ness, and much self-possession. She 
carried Titmouse's feelings along with 
her from the beginning, as Gammon, 
who was watching him, perceived. 

"Most uncommon lovely gal, isn't 
she ?" whispered Titmouse, with great 
vivacity. 

"Very!" replied Gammon drily, 
with a slight smile. 

' ' Shall I call out encore ? A'n't that 
the word ? Ton my soul, most lovely 
gal ! she must sing it again." 

"No, no — she wishes to go — 'tis 
not usual : she will sing it for you, I 
dare say, this evening, if you ask her." 

"Well — most charming gal! — 
Lovely ! " 

"Have patience, my dear Tit- 
mouse," said Gammon, in a low whis- 
per, "in a few months' time you'll 
soon be thrown into much higher life 
than this — among really beautiful, and 
rich, and accomplished women" — 
[and, thought Gammon, you'll resemble 
a monkey that has found his way into 
a rich tulip-bed !] 

' ' Fancy Miss Tag-rag standing be- 
side her," whispered Titmouse, scorn- 
fully. 

" Ha, ha ! " gently laughed Gammon 
— "both of them, in their way, are 
very worthy persons ; but "—Here the 
ladies withdrew. 'Twas no part of 
Gammon's plans that Titmouse should 
become the son-in-law of either Quirk 
or Tag-rag. Mr. Gammon had formed 
already, vastly different plans for him ! 

As soon as Quirk had taken the head 
of the table, and the gentlemen drawn 
together, the bottles were pushed round 
very briskly, accompanied by no less 
than three different sorts of snuff- 
boxes, all belonging to Mr. Quirk — all 



190 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK. 



of them presents from clients. One 
was a huge affair of Botany Bay wood, 
with a very flaming inscription on the 
inside of the lid ; from which it ap- 
peared that its amiable donors, who 
were trying the effect of a change of 
climate on their moral health at the 
expense of a grateful country, owed 
their valuable lives to the professional 
skill and exertions of " Caleb Quirk, 
Esq." In short, the other two were 
trophies of a similar description, of 
which their possessor was very jusf y 
not a little proud ; and as he saw Tit- 
mouse admiring them, it occurred to 
him as very possible that, within a few 
months' time, he should be in posses- 
sion of a magnificent gold snuff-box, 
in acknowledgment of the services he 
should have rendered to his distin- 
guished guest and client. Titmouse 
was in the highest possible spirits. 
This, his first glimpse into high life, 
equalled all his expectations. Eound 
and round went the bottles — crack 
went joke after joke. Slang sung song 
upon song, of, however, so very coarse 
and broad a character as infinitely 
disgusted Gammon, and apparently 
shocked the alderman ; — though I 
greatly distrust that old sinner's sin- 
cerity in the matter. Then Ghastly 's 
performances commenced. Poor fel- 
low ! he exerted himself to the utmost 
to earn the good dinner he had just 
devoured : but when he was in the 
very middle of one of his most im- 
passioned scenes — undoubtedly " tear- 
ing a passion to rags," — Mr. Quirk 
interrupted, impatiently — "Come, 
come, Ghastly, we've had enough of 
that sort — it don't suit at all ! — Lord 
bless us ! — don't roar so, man ! " 

Poor Ghastly instantly resumed his 
seat, with a chagrined and melancholy 
air. 

• ' Give us something funny, ' ' snuffled 
the alderman. 

' ' Let's have the chorus of Pigs and 
Ducks," said Quirk; "you do that 
remarkable well. I could fancy the 
animals were running, and squealing, 
and quacking all about the room." 
The actor did as he was desired, com- 
mencing with a sigh, and was much 
applauded. At length Gammon hap- 



pened to get into a discussion with 
Mr. Bluster upon some point connected 
with the Habeas Corpus Act, in which 
our friend Gammon, who never got 
heated in discussion, and was very 
accurate in whatever he knew, had 
glaringly the best of it. His calm, 
smiling self-possession almost drove 
poor Bluster frantic. The less he 
knew, of course the louder he talked, 
the more vehement and positive he 
became ; at length offering a bet that 
he was right ; at which Gammon bowed, 
smiled, and closed the discussion. 
While engaged in it, he had of course 
been unable to keep his eye upon Tit- 
mouse, who drunk, consequently, like 
a little fish, never letting the bottle 
pass him. Every one about him filled 
his glass every time — why should not 
he? 

Hug sat next to Viper ; feared him, 
and avoided discussion with him ; for, 
though they agreed in their politics, 
which were of the loosest and lowest 
radical description, they had a per- 
sonal antipathy each to the other. In 
spite of their wishes, they at length 
got entangled in a very virulent con- 
troversy, and said so many insulting 
things to each other, that the rest of 
the company, who had for some time 
been amused, got at length — not dis- 
gusted — but alarmed, for the possible 
results. Mr. Quirk, therefore, inter- 
fered. 

" Bravo ! bravo ! bravo ! " he ex- 
claimed, as Viper concluded a most 
envenomed passage, "that will do, 
Viper — whip it into the next Flash— 
'twill be a capital leader! It will 
produce a sensation ! And in the 
mean time, gentlemen, let me request 
you to fill your glasses — bumpers — for 
I have a toast to propose, in which 
you'll all feel interested when you hear 
who's the subject of it. It is a gentle- 
man who is likely soon to be elevated 
to a station which Nature has formed 
him — hem ! hem ! — to adorn " 

"Mr. Quirk's proposing your health, 
Titmouse ! " whispered Gammon to his 
companion, who, having been very 
restless for some time, had at length 
become quite silent — his head resting 
on his hand, his elbow on the table 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



191 



his eyes languidly half open, and his 
face exceedingly pale. Gammon saw 
that he was in truth in a very ticklish 
Condition. 

"I — wish — you'd — let me — go out 
— I'm devilish ill " — said Titmouse, 
faintly. Gammon made a signal to 
Quirk, who instantly ceased his speech ; 
and, coming donn to Titmouse, he 
and Gammon hastily led him out of 
the room, and into the nearest bed- 
chamber, where he began to be very 
ill, and so continued for several hours. 
Old Quiik, who was a long-headed 
man, was delighted by this occurrence ; 
for he saw that if he insisted on Tit- 
mouse's being put to bed, and passing 
the night — and perhaps the next day 
— at Alibi House, it would enable Miss 
Quirk to bring her attractions to bear 
upon him effectively, by exhibiting 
those delicate and endearing attentions 
which are so soothing, and indeed 
necessary to an invalid. Titmouse 
continued severely indisposed during 
the whole of the night ; and, early in 
the morning, it was thought advisable 
to send for a medical man, who pro- 
nounced Titmouse to be in danger of a 
bilious fever, and to require rest, and 
care, and medical attendance for some 
days to come. This was rather " too 
much of a good thing " for old Quirk 
— but there was no remedy. Fore- 
seeing that Titmouse would be thrown 
constantly, for some little time to 
come, into Miss Quirk's company, her 
prudent parent enjoined upon Mrs. 
Alias, his sister, the necessity of im- 
pressing on his daughter's mind the 
great uncertainty that, after all, ex- 
isted as to Titmouse's prospects ; and 
the consequent necessity there was for 
her to regulate her conduct with a 
view to either failure or success — to 
keep her affections, as it were, in abey- 
ance. But the fact was, that Miss 
Quirk had so often heard the subject 
of Titmouse's brilliant expectations 
talked of by her father, and knew so 
well his habitual prudence and cau« 
tion, that she looked upon Titmouse's 
speedy possession of ten thousand a- 
year as a matter almost of certainty. 
She was a girl of some natural shrewd- 
ness, but of an early inclination to 



maudlin sentimentality. Had she 
been blessed with the vigilant and 
affectionate care of a mother as she 
grew up, (her mother having died 
when Miss Quirk was but a child,) 
and been thrown among a different sot 
of people from those who constantly 
visited at Alibi House — and of whom 
a very favourable specimen has been 
laid before the reader- — Miss Quirk 
might really have become a very 
sensible and agreeable girl. As it was, 
her manners had contracted a certain 
coarseness, which at length overspread 
her whole character ; and the selfish 
and mercenary motives by which she 
could not fail to perceive all her father's 
conduct regulated, infected herself. 
She resolved, therefore, to be governed 
by the considerations so urgently 
pressed upon her by both her lather 
and her aunt. 

It was several days before Titmouse 
was allowed, by his medical man, to 
quit his bedroom ; and it is impossible 
for any woman not to be touched by 
the sight of a sudden change effected 
in a man by severe indisposition and 
suffering — even be that man so poor a 
creature as Titmouse. He was very 
pale, and considerably reduced by the 
severe nature of his complaint, and of 
the powerful medicines which had been 
administered to him. "When he made 
his first appearance before Miss Quirk,- 
one afternoon, with somewhat feeble 
gait, and a languid air that mitigated, 
if it did not obliterate, the foolish and 
conceited expression of his features, 
she really regarded him with consider- 
able interest ; and, though she might 
hardly have owned it even to herself, 
his expected good fortune invested him 
with a kind of subdued radiance. Ten 
thousand a-year ! — Miss Quirk's heart 
fluttered ! By the time that he was 
well enough to take his departure, she 
had, at his request, read over to him 
nearly half of that truly interesting 
work — the Newgate Calendar ; she 
had sung to him, and played to him, 
whatever he asked her ; and, in short, 
she felt that if she could but be certain 
that he would gain his great lawsuit, 
and step into ten thousand a-year, she 
could love him. She insisted, on the 



192 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



day of his quitting Alibi House, that 
he should write in her album ; and he 
very readily complied. It was nearly 
ten minutes before he could get a pen 
to suit him. At length he succeeded, 
and left the following interesting me- 
mento of himself, in the very centre 
of a fresh page : — 

"Tittlebat Titmouse Is My name, 
England Is My Nation, 
London Is My dwelling-Place, 
And Christ Is My Salvation. 

" Tittlebat Titmouse, 
" halibi lodge." 

Miss Quirk turned pale with aston- 
ishment and vexation on seeing this 
elegant and interesting addition to her 
album. Titmouse, on the contrary, 
looked at it with no little pride ; for 
having had a capital pen, and his heart 
being in his task, he had produced 
■what he conceived to be a very superior 
specimen of penmanship : in fact, the 
signature was by far the best he had 
ever written. When he had gone, Miss 
Quirk was twenty times on the point 
of tearing out the leaf which had been 
so dismally disfigured ; but on her 
father coming home in the evening, 
he laughed heartily — "and as to tear- 
ing it out," said he, "let us first see 
which way the verdict is. " 

Titmouse became, after this, a pretty 
frequent visitor at Alibi House ; grow 
ing more and more attached to Miss 
Quirk, who, however, conducted her- 
self towards him with much judgment. 
His inscription on her album had done 
a vast deal towards cooling down the 
ardour with which she had been dis- 
posed to regard even the future owner 
of ten thousand a-year. Poor Snap 
seemed to have lost all chance, being 
treated with greater coldness by Miss 
Quirk on every succeeding visit to 
Alibi House. At this he was sorely 
discomfited ; for she would have what- 
ever money her father might die pos- 
sessed of, besides a commanding interest 
in the partnership business. 'Twas a 
difficult thing for him to preserve his 
temper in his close intimacy with Tit- 
mouse, who had so grievously interfered 
with his prospects. 

The indisposition I have been men- 
tioning, prevented Titmouse from pay- 



ing his promised visit to Satin Lodge. 
On returning to his lodgings, from 
Alibi House, he found that Tag-rag 
had either called or sent every day to 
enquire after him with the most affec- 
tionate anxiety ; and one or two notes 
lying on his table, apprised him of the 
lively distress which the ladies of Satin 
Lodge were enduring on his account, 
and implored him to lose not a moment 
in communicating the state of his 
health, and personally assuring them 
of his safety. Though the image of 
Miss Quirk was continually before his 
eyes, Titmouse, nevertheless, had cun- 
ning enough not to drop the slightest 
hint to the Tag-rags of the true state 
of his feelings. Whenever any en- 
quiry, with ill-disguised anxiety, was 
made by Mrs. Tag-rag concerning Alibi 
House and its inmates, Titmouse would, 
to be sure, mention Miss Quirk, but in 
such a careless and slighting way as 
gave great consolation and encourage- 
ment to Tag-rag, his wife, and daugh- 
ter. When at Mr. Quirk's, he spoke 
somewhat unreservedly of the amiable 
inmates of Satin Lodge. These two 
mansions were almost the only private 
residences visited by Titmouse, who 
spent his time much in the way which 
I have already described. How he 
got through his days I can hardly tell. 
At his lodgings he got up very late, 
and went to bed very late. He never 
read anything excepting occasionally a 
song-book ] ent him by Snap, or a novel, 
or some such book as " Boxiana,"from 
the circulating library. Dawdling 
over his dress and his breakfast, then 
whistling and humming, took up so 
much of every day as he passed at his 
lodgings. The rest was spent in idling 
about the town, looking in at shop 
windows, and now and then going to 
some petty exhibition. When evening 
came, he was generally joined by Snap, 
when they would spend the night to- 
gether in the manner I have already 
described. As often as he dared, he 
called at Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap's office at Saffron Hill, and 
worried them not a little by enquiries 
concerning the state of his affairs, and 
the cause of the delay in commenci;;" 
proceedings. As for Huckaback, by 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



193 



the way, Titmouse cut him entirely ; 
saying that he was a devilish low 
fellow, and it was no use knowing him. 
He made many desperate efforts, both 
personally and by letter, to renew his 
acquaintance with Titmouse, but in 
vain. I may as well mention, by the 
way, that as soon as Snap got scent of 
the little money transaction between 
his friend and Huckaback, he called 
upon the latter, and tendering him 
twelve shillings, demanded up the 
document which he had extorted from 
Titmouse. Huckaback held out ob- 
stinately for some time — but Snap was 
too much for him, and talked in such 
a formidable strain about an indictment 
for a conspiracy (!) and fraud, that 
Huckaback at length consented, on 
receiving twelve shillings, to deliver 
up the document to Snap, on condition 
of Snap's destroying it on the spot. 
This was done, and so ended all inter- 
course — at least on this side of the grave 
— between Titmouse and Huckaback. 

The sum allowed by Messrs. Quirk 
and Gammon to Titmouse, was amply 
sufficient to have kept him in comfort ; 
but it never would have enabled him 
to lead the kind of life which I have 
described — and he would certainly have 
got very awkwardly involved, had it 
not been for the kindness of Snap in 
advancing him, from time to time, 
such sums as his exigencies required. 
In fact, matters went on as quietly 
and smoothly as possible for several 
months — till about the middle of 
November, when an event occurred 
that seemed to threaten the total 
demolition of all his hopes and ex- 
pectations. 

He had not seen or heard from 
Messrs. Quirk or Gammon for nearly 
a fortnight ; Snap he had not seen for 
nearly a week. At length he ventured 
to make his appearance at Saffron Hill, 
and was received with a startling 
coldness — a stern abruptness of man- 
ner, that frightened him out of his 
wits. All the three partners were 
alike — as for Snap, the contrast be- 
tween his present and his former man- 
ner was perfectly shocking ; he seemed 
quite another person. The fact was, 
that the full statement of Titmouse's 



claims had been laid before Mr. Subtle, 
the leading counsel retained in his 
behalf, for his opinion, before actually 
commencing proceedings ; and the 
partners were indeed thunderstruck on 
receiving that opinion : for Mr. Subtle 
pointed out a radical deficiency of 
proof in a matter which, as soon as 
their attention was thus pointedly 
called to it, Messrs. Quirk and Gam- 
mon were amazed at their having 
overlooked, and still more at its 
having escaped the notice of Mr. 
Tresayle, Mr. Mortmain, and Mr. 
Frankpledge. Mr. Quirk hurried with 
the opinion to the first two gentlemen ; 
and after a long interview with each, 
they owned their fears that Mr. Subtle 
was right, and that the defect seemed 
incurable ; but they showed their 
agitated clients, that they had been 
guilty of neither oversight nor ignor- 
ance, inasmuch as the matter in ques- 
tion was one of evidence only — one 
which a nisi prius lawyer, with a full 
detail of "proofs" before him, could 
hardly fail to light upon — but which, 
it would be found, had been assumed 
and taken for granted in the cases laid 
before conveyancers. They promised 
to turn it over in their minds, and to 
let Messrs. Quirk and Gammon know 
if anything occurred to vary their 
impression. Mr. Tresayle and Mr. 
Mortmain, however, preserved an 
ominous silence. As for Frankpledge, 
he had a knack, somehow or another, 
of always coming to the conclusion 
wished and hoped for by his clients ; 
and, after prodigious pains, wrote a 
very long opinion, to show that there 
was nothing in the objection. Neither 
Mr. Quirk nor Mr. Gammon could 
understand the process by which Mr. 
Frankpledge arrived at such a result ; 
but, in despair, they laid his opinion 
before Mr. Subtle, in the shape of a 
second case for his opinion. It was, 
in a few days' time, returned to them, 
with only a line or two — thus : — 

"With every respect for the gentle- 
man who wrote this opinion, I cannot 
perceive what it has to do with the 
question. I see no reason whatever to 
depart from the view I have already 
taken of this case. — J. S." 



194 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



Here was something like a dead 
lock, indeed ! 

" We're done, Gammon ! " said 
Quirk with a dismayed air. Gammon 
seemed lost, and made no answer. 

"Does anything — eh? Anything 
occur to you ? Gammon, I will say 
this for you — you're a long-headed 
fellow ! " Still Gammon spoke not. 

"Gammon! Gammon! I really 
believe — you begin to see something." 
"It's to be done, Mr. Quirk! " said 
Gammon at length, with a grave and 
apprehensive look, and a cheek paler 
than before. 

"Eh? how? Oh, I see!— Know 
what you mean, Gammon," replied 
Quirk with a hurried whisper, glanc- 
ing at both doors to see that they 
were sale. 

"We must resume our intercourse 
with Titmouse, and let matters go on 
as before," said Gammon with a very 
anxious, but, at the same time, a 
determined air. 

" I — I wonder if what has occurred 
to you is what has occurred to me ? " 
enquired Quirk in an eager whisper. 
"Pooh! pooh! Mr. Quirk." 
" Gammon, dear Gammon, no mys- 
tery ! You know 1 have a deep stake 
in this matter ! " 

"So have I, Mr. Quirk," replied 
Gammon with a sigh. " However " — 
Here the partners put their heads 
close together, and whispered to each 
other in a low, earnest tone, for some 
minutes. Quirk rose from his seat, 
and took two or three turns about the 
room in silence, Gammon watching 
him calmly. 

To his inexpressible relief and joy, 
within a few hours of the happening 
of the above colloquy, Titmouse found 
himself placed on precisely his former 
footing with Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap. 

In order to bring on the cause for 
trial at the next spring assizes, it was 
necessary that the declaration in eject- 
ment should be served on the tenant 
in possession before Hilary term ; and, 
in a matter of such magnitude, it was 
deemed expedient for Snap to go down 
and personally effect the service in 
question. In consequence, also, of 



some very important suggestions as to 
the evidence, given by the junior in 
the cause, it was arranged that Snap 
should go down about a week before 
the time fixed upon for effecting the 
service, and make minute enquiries 
as to one or two facts which it was 
understood could be established in 
evidence. As soon as Titmouse heard 
of this movement, that Snap was 
going direct to Yatton, the scene of 
his, Titmouse's, future greatness, he 
made the most pertinacious and vehe- 
ment entreaties to Messrs. Quirk and 
Gammon to be allowed to accompany 
him, even going down on his knees. 
There was no resisting this ; but they 
exacted a solemn pledge from him that 
he would place himself entirely at the 
disposal of Snap ; go under some 
feigned name, and, in short, neither 
say nor do anything tending to disclose 
their real character or errand. 

Snap and Titmouse established 
themselves at the Hare and Hounds 
Inn at Grilston ; and the former 
immediately began, cautiously and 
quietly, to collect such evidence as 
he could discover. One of the first 
persons to whom he went was old 
blind Bess. His many pressing ques- 
tions at length stirred up in the old 
woman's mind recollections of long- 
forgotten names, persons, places, 
scenes, and associations, thereby pro- 
ducing an agitation not easily to be 
got rid of, and which had by no means 
subsided when Dr. Tatham and Mr. 
Aubrey paid her the Christmas-day 
visit, which has been already described. 



CHAPTER XI. 

The reader has had already pretty 
distinct indications of the manner in 
which Titmouse and Snap conducted 
themselves during their stay in York- 
shire, and which, I f ear> have not 
tended to raise either of these gentle- 
men in the reader's estimation Tit- 
mousemamfested a very natural anxiety 
to see the present occupants of Yatton • 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR 



195 



r.nd it was with infinite difficulty that 
Snap could prevent him from sneaking 
about in the immediate neighbourhood 
of the Hall, with the hope of seeing 
them. His first encounter with Mr. 
and Miss Aubrey was entirely acci- 
dental, as the reader ma)' remember ; 
and when he found that the lady on 
horseback near Yatton, and the lady 
whom he had striven to attract the 
notice of in Hyde Park, were one and 
the same beautiful woman, and that 
that beautiful woman was neither more 
nor less than the sister of the present 
owner of Yatton — the marvellous dis- 
covery created a mighty pother in his 
little feelings. The blaze of Kate 
Aubrey's beauty, in an instant con- 
sumed the images both of Tabitha 
Tag-rag and Dora Quirk. It even for 
a while outshone the splendours of ten 
thousand a-year : such is the inex- 
pressible and incalculable power of 
woman's beauty over everything in 
the shape of man — over even so des- 
picable a sample of him as Tittlebat 
Titmouse. 

While putting in practice some of 
those abominable tricks to which, 
under Snap's tutelage, Titmouse had 
become accustomed in walking the 
streets of London, and from which 
even the rough handling they had got 
from farmer Hazel could not turn him, 
Titmouse at length, as has been seen, 
most unwittingly fell foul of that fair 
creature, Catharine Aubrey herself ; 
who seemed truly like an angelic mes- 
senger, returning from her errand of 
sympathy and mercy, and suddenly 
beset by a little imp of darkness. 
"When Titmouse discovered who was 
the object of his audacious and revolt- 
ing advances, his soul was petrified 
within him ; and it was fortunate that 
the shriek of Miss Aubrey's attendant 
at length startled him into a recol- 
lection of a pair of heels, to which he 
was that evening indebted for an escape 
from a most murderous cudgeling, 
which might have been attended with 
one effect not contemplated by him 
who inflicted it ; viz., the retention 
of the Aubreys in the possession of 
Yatton ! Titmouse ran for nearly 
half-a-mile on the high-road towards 



Grilston, without stopping. He dared 
not venture back to Yatton, with the 
sound of the lusty farmer's voice in 
his ears, to get back from the Aubrey 
Arms the horse which had brought 
him that afternoon from Grilston, to 
which place he walked on, through 
the snow and darkness ; reaching his 
inn in a perfect panic, from which, at 
length, a tumbler of stiff brandy and 
water, with two or three cigars, some- 
what relieved him. Forgetful of the 
solemn pledge which he had given to 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, 
not to disclose his name or errand, 
and it never once occurring to him 
that, if he would but keep his own 
counsel, Miss Aubrey could never 
identify him with the ruffian who had 
assailed her, he spent the interval 
between eight and twelve o'clock, at 
which latter hour the coach by which 
he had resolved to return to London 
would pass through Grilston, in in- 
dicting the following letter to Miss 
Aubrey : — 

"Grilston, January 6th, 18 — ■. 
"Honoured Miss, 

" Hoping No Offence Will Be Taken 
where None is meant, (which am Sure 
of,) This I send To say Who I Am 
which, Is the Eight And True Owner 
of Yatton which You Enjoy Amongst 
You All At This present (Till The 
Law Give it to Me) Which It quickly 
Will And which It Ought to Have 
done When I were First born And 
Before Yr Respect. Family ever Came 
into it, And All which Yr. hond. 
Brother Have so unlawfully Got Pos- 
session Of must Come Back to Them 
Whose Due It is wh. Is myself as will 
be Seme provd. And wh. am most 
truely Sorry Of on your own Acct. 
(Meaning (hond. Miss,) you Alone) as 
Sure as Yatton is IntirelyMine So My 
Heart Is yours and No Longer my Own 
Ever since I Saw You first as Can 
Easily prove but wh. doubtless You 
Have forgot Seeing You Never New, 
seeing (as Mr. Gammon, My Solliciter 
And a Very Great Lawyer, say) Cases 
Alter Circumstances, what Can I say 
More Than that I Love you Most 
Amazing Such As Never Thought 

2 



196 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



Myself Capable of Doing Before and 
wh. cannot help Ever Since I First 
saw Yor. most Lovely and Divine and 
striking Face wh. have Stuck In my 
Mind Ever Since Day and Night Sleep- 
ing and Waking I will Take my Oath 
Never Of Having Lov'd Any one Else, 
Though (must Say) have Had a Won- 
derful Many Offers From Females of 
The Highest liank Since my Truly 
Wonderful Good fortune got Talked 
About every Where but have Refused 
Them All forj/r sake, And Would All 
the World But you. When I Saw 
You on Horseback It was All my 
Sudden confusion In Seeing you (The 
Other Gent, was One of my Respe. 
Solicitors) wh Threw Me off in that 
Ridiculous Way wh was a Great Morti- 
fication And made My brute Of A 
horse go on so For I Remembered You 
and was Wonderful struck with Your 
Tmprov'd Appearance (As that Same 
Gent, can Testify) And you was (Hond. 
Miss) Onite Wrong To Night when 
You Spoke so Uncommon Angry To 
Me, seeing If I Had Only Known 
What Female It Was (meaning yourself 
which I respect So) out so Late Alone 
I should Have spoke quite Different 
So hope You Will Think Nothing 
More Of that Truly Unpleasant Event 
Now (Hond. Madam) What I Have 
To say Is if You will Please To Con- 
descend To Yield To My Desire We 
Can Live Most uncommon Comfortable 
at Yalton Together w h . Place shall 
Have Great Pleasure in Marrying You 
From and I may (perJiaps) Do Some- 
thing Handsome for y r . respectable 
Brother And Family, wh. can Often 
Come to see us And Live in the 
Neighbourhood, if You Refuse me, 
Will not say What shall Happen to 
Those which (am Told) Owe me a Pre- 
cious Long Figure wh. May {perhaps) 
Make a Handsome Abatement in, if 
You And I Hit it. 

"Hoping You Will Forget What 
Have So Much Grievd. me, And Write 
pr. return of Post, 

"Am, hond. Miss 
" Yr most Loving & Devoted Servant, 
"(Till Death) 

"Tittlebat Titmouse. 

" {Private.) " 



This equally characteristic and dis- 
gusting production, its accomplished 
writer sealed twice, and then left, 
together with sixpence, in the hands 
of the landlady of the Hare and 
Hounds, to be delivered at Yatton 
Hall the first thing in the morning. 
The good woman, however — having 
no particular wish to oblige such a 
strange puppy, whom she was only 
too glad to get rid of, and having a 
good deal to attend to — laid the letter 
aside on the chimney-piece, and en- 
tirely lost sight of it for nearly a 
fortnight. Shortly after the lament- 
able tidings concerning the impending 
misfortunes of the Aubrey family had 
been communicated to the inhabitants 
of Grilston, she forwarded the letter, 
(little dreaming of the character in 
which its writer was likely, erelong, 
to re-appear at Grilston, ) together with 
one or two others, a day or two after 
Miss Aubrey had had the interview 
with her brother which I have de- 
scribed to the reader ; but it lay un- 
noticed by any one — above all, by the 
sweet sufferer whose name was indicated 
on it — among a great number of mis- 
cellaneous letters and papers which 
had been suffered to accumulate on the 
library table. 

Mr. Aubrey entered the library one 
morning alone, for the purpose of at- 
tending to many matters which had 
been long neglected. He was evidently 
thinner : his face was pale, and his 
manner dejected : still there was about 
him an air of calmness and resolution. 
Through the richly pictured old 
stained - glass window, the mottled 
sunbeams were streaming in a kind 
of tender radiance upon the dear old 
familiar objects around him. All was 
silent. Having drawn his chair to 
the table, on which were lying a con- 
fused heap of letters and papers, he 
felt a momentary repugnance to enter 
upon the task which he had assigned 
to himself, of opening and attending 
to them ; and walked slowly for some 
time up and down the room, with 
folded arms, uttering occasionally pro- 
found sighs. At length he sat down, 
and commenced the disheartening task 
of opening the many letters before him. 



TEX THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



197 



One of the first he opened was from 
Peter Johnson — the old tciiant to 
whom he had lent the sum of two 
hundred pounds ; and it was full of 
expressions of gratitude and respect. 
Then came a letter, a fortnight old, 

bearing the frank of Lord , the 

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. 
He opened it and read : — ■ 

" Whitehall, 16th January, 18 — 
" My dear Aubrey, 

"You will remember that Lord 

's motion stands for the 28th. 

We all venture to calculate upon re- 
ceiving your powerful support in the 
debate. "We expect to be much pressed 

with the Duke of 's affair, which 

you handled shortly before the recess 
with such signal ability and success. 
When you return to town, you must 
expect a renewal of certain offers, which 
I most sincerely trust, for the benefit 
of the public service, will not be again 
declined. 

"Ever yours faithfully, 

"C 

" (Private and confidential.) 
" Charles Aubrey, Esq., M.P." 

Mr. Aubrey laid down the letter 
calmly, as soon as he had read it ; 
and, leaning back in his chair, seemed 
lost in thought for several minutes. 
Presently he re-applied himself to his 
task, and opened and glanced over a 
great many letters ; the contents of 
several of which occasioned him deep 
emotion. Some were from persons in 
distress whom he had assisted, and 
who implored a continuance of his 
aid ; others were from ardent political 
friends — some sanguine, others de- 
sponding — concerning the prospects of 
the session. Two or three hinted that 
it was everywhere reported that lie 
had been offered one of the under 
secretaryships, and had declined ; but 
that it was, at the king's desire, to be 
pressed upon him. Many letters were 
on private, and still more on county 
business ; and with one of them he 
was engaged, when a servant entered 
with one of that morning's county 
papers. Tired with his task, Mr. 
Aubrey rose from his chair as the 



servant gave him the paper ; and> 
standing before the fire, unfolded the 
Yorkshire Stingo, and glanced list- 
lessly over its miscellaneous contents. 
At length his eye lit upon the follow- 
ing paragraph : — 

"The rumours so deeply affecting a 
member for a certain borough in this 
county, and to which we alluded in 
our last paper but one, turn out to be 
well-founded. A claimant has started 
up to the very large estates at present 
held by the gentleman in question ; 
and we are very much misinformed if 
the ensuing spring assizes will not 
effect a considerable change in the 
representation of the borough alluded 
to, by relieving it from the Tory 
thraldom under which it has been so 
long oppressed. We have no wish to 
bear hard upon a falling man ; and, 
therefore, shall make no comment 
upon the state of mind in which that 
person may be presumed to be, who 
must be conscious of having been so. 
long enjoying the just rights of others. 
Some extraordinary disclosures may 
be looked for when the trial comes on. 
We have heard from a quarter on 
which we are disposed to place reliance, 
that the claimant is a gentleman of 
decided Whig principles, and who will 
prove a valuable accession to the 
Liberal cause." 

Mr. Aubrey was certainly somewhat 
shocked by brutality such as this ; 
but, on Miss Aubrey's entering the 
room, he quietly folded up the paper 
and laid it aside, fearful lest his sister's 
feelings should be pierced by so coarse 
and cruel a paragraph, which, in fact, 
had been concocted in London in the 
office of Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and 
Snap, who were, as before stated, 
interested in the Sunday Flash, which 
was in some sort connected, through 
the relationship of the editors, with 
the Yorkshire Stingo. The idea had 
been suggested by Gammon, of at- 
tempting to enlist the political feeling 
of a portion of the county in favour 
of their client. 

" Here are several letters for you, 
Kate, " said her brother, picking several 
of them out. The veiy first she took 
up, it having attracted her attention 



198 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK. 



by the double seal, and the vulgar 
style of the handwriting, was that 
from Titmouse, which has just been 
laid before the reader. "With much 
surprise she opened the letter, her 
brother being similarly engaged with 
his own ; and her face getting gradu- 
ally paler and paler as she went on, at 
length she flung it on the floor, with a 
passionate air, and burst into tears. 
Her brother, with astonishment, ex- 
claimed, — "Dear Kate, what is it ?" 
and he rose and stooped to pick up 
the letter. 

" Don't — don't, Charles ! " she cried, 
putting her foot upon it, and flinging 
her arms round his neck. "It is an 
audacious letter — a vulgar, a cruel 
letter, dear Charles! " Her emotion 
increased as her thoughts recurred to 
the heartless paragraph concerning her 
brother with which the letter con- 
cluded. ' ' I could have overlooked 
everything but that," said she, unwit- 
tingly. With gentle force he succeeded 
in getting hold of the painfully ridicu- 
lous and contemptible effusion. He 
attempted faintly to smile several 
times as he went on. 

"Don't — don't, dearest Charles ! I 
can't bear it. Don't smile — It's very 
far from your heart ; you do it only to 
assure me." 

Here Mr. Aubrey read the paragraph 
concerning himself. His face turned 
a little paler than before, and his lips 
quivered with suppressed emotion. 
" He is evidently a very foolish fel- 
low ! " he exclaimed, walking towards 
the window, with his back to his 
sister, whom he did not wish to see 
how much he was affected by so petty 
an incident. 

" What does he allude to, Kate, 
when he talks of your having spoken 
angrily to him, and that he did not 
know you ? " he enquired, after a 
few moments' pause, returning to 
her. 

"Oh dear ! — I am so grieved that 
you should have noticed it — but since 
you ask me " — and she told him the 
occurrence alluded to in the letter. 
Mr. Aubrey drew himself up uncon- 
sciously as Kate went on, and she 
perceived him becoming still paler 



than before, and felt the kindling anger 
of his eye. 

"Forget it — forget it, dearest 
Charles ! — So despicable a being is 
really not worth a thought," said 
Kate, with increasing anxiety ; for she 
had never in her life before witnessed 
her brother the subject of such power- 
ful emotions as then made rigid his 
slender frame. At length, drawing a 
long breath — 

"It is fortunate, Kate," said he, 
calmly, "that he is not a gentleman, 
and that I endeavour to be — a Chris- 
tian." She flung her arms round him, 
exclaiming, "There spoke my own 
noble brother ! " 

' ' I shall preserve this letter as a 
curiosity, Kate," said he presently ; 
and with a pointed significance of 
manner, that arrested his sister's at- 
tention, he added, — "It is rather 
singular, but some time before you 
came in, I opened a letter in which 
your name, is mentioned — I cannot say 
in a similar manner, and yet — in 
short, it is from Lord de la Zouch, 
enclosing one " 

Miss Aubrey suddenly blushed 
scarlet, and trembled violently. 

"Don't be agitated, my dear Kate, 
the enclosure is from Lady de la 
Zouch ; and if it be in the same strain 
of kindness that pervades Lord de la 
Zouch's letter to vie " 

"I would rather that you opened 
and read it, Charles " — she faltered, 
sinking into a chair. 

"Come, come, dear Kate — play 
the woman ! " said her brother, with 
an affectionate air, — "To say that 
there is nothing in these letters that I 
believe will interest you — very deeply 
gratify and interest your feelings — 
would be " 

" 1 know — I — I — suspect — I " 

faltered Miss Aubrey with much agi- 
tation — " I shall return." 

"Then you shall take these letters 
with you, and read, or not read them, 
as you like," said her brother, putting 
the letters into her hand with a fond 
and sorrowful smile, that soon, how- 
ever, flitted away— and, leading her 
to the door, he was once more alone ; 
and, after a brief interval of reverie, 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK. 



199 



he wrote answers to such of the many 
letters before him as he considered, 
earliest to require them. 

Notwithstanding the judgment and 
tenderness with which Dr. Tatham 
discharged the very serious duty 
which, at the entreaty of his afflicted 
friends, he had undertaken, of break- 
ing to Mrs. Aubrey the calamity with 
which she and her family were 
menaced, the effects of the disclosure 
had been most disastrous. They had 
paralysed her ; and Mr. Aubrey, who 
had long been awaiting the issue, in 
sickening suspense, in an adjoining 
room, was hastily summoned in to be- 
hold a mournful and heart-rending 
spectacle. His venerable mother — she 
who had given him life at the mortal 
peril of her own ; she whom he 
cherished with unutterable tenderness 
and reverence ; she who doated upon 
him as upon the light of her eyes ; 
from whose dear lips he had never 
heard a word of unkindness or sever- 
ity ; whose heart had never known 
an impulse but of gentle, noble, un- 
bounded generosity towards all around 
her — this idolized being now lay sud- 
denly prostrated and blighted before 
him 

Poor Aubrey yielded to his long and 
violent agony, in the presence of her 
who could apparently no longer hear, 
or see, or be sensible of what was 
passing in the chamber. 

" My son," said Dr. Tatham, after 
the first burst of his friend's grief was 
over, and he knelt down beside his 
mother with her hand grasped in his, 
"despise not the chastening of the 
Lord ; neither be weary of His cor- 
rection : 

"For whom the Lord loveth He 
correcteth, even as a father the son in 
whom he delighteth. 

"The Lord, will not cast off for 
ever ; 

"But though he cause grief, yet 
will he have compassion, according to 
the multitude of his mercies. 

"For he doth not afflict willingly, 
nor grieve the children of men." 

It was with great difficulty that Dr. 
Tatham could render himself audible 
while murmuring these soothing and 



solemn passages of Scripture in the 
ear of his distracted friend, beside, 
whom he knelt. 

Mrs. Aubrey had suffered a paralytic 
seizure, and lay motionless and insen- 
sible ; her features slightly disfigured, 
but partially concealed beneath her 
long silvery grey hair, which had, in 
the suddenness of the fit, strayed from 
beneath her cap. 

" But what am I about ? " at length 
exclaimed Mr. Aubrey, with a languid 
and alarmed air — "has medical assist- 



"Dr. Goddart and Mr. Whateley 
are both sent for by several servants, 
and will doubtless be very quickly 
here," replied Dr. Tatham ; and while 
he yet spoke, Mr. Whateley — who, 
when hastened on by the servant who 
had been sent for him, was entering 
the park on a visit to young Mrs. 
Aubrey, who was also seriously ill 
and in peculiarly critical circum- 
stances — entered the room, and im- 
mediately resorted to the necessary 
measures. Soon afterwards, also, Dr. 
Goddart arrived ; but, alas, how little 
could they do for the venerable 
sufferer ! 

During the next, and for many en- 
suing days, the lodge was assailed by 
very many anxious and sympathiz- 
ing enquirers, who were answered 
by Waters, whom Mr. Aubrey — op- 
pressed by the number of friends who 
hurried up to the Hall, and insisted 
upon seeing him to ascertain the ex- 
tent to which the dreadful rumours 
were correct — had stationed there dur- 
ing the day to afford the requisite 
information. The Hall was pervaded 
by a gloom that could be felt. "Every 
servant had a woe-begone look, and 
moved about as if a funeral were 
stirring. Little Charles and Agnes, 
almost imprisoned in their nursery, 
seemed quite puzzled and confused at 
the strange unusual seriousness, and 
quietness, and melancholy faces every- 
where about them. Kate romped not 
with them as had been her wont ; but 
would constantly burst into tears as 
she held them on her knee or in her 
arms, trying to evade the continual 
questioning of Charles. "I think it 



200 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK. 



will be time for me to cry too by-and- 
by ! " said he to her one day, with an 
air half in jest and half in earnest, that 
made poor Kate's tears flow afresh. 
Sleepless nights and days of sorrow 
soon told upon her appearance. Her 
glorious buoyancy of spirits, that ere- 
while, as it were, had filled the whole 
Hall with gladness — where were they 
now ! Ah, me ! the rich bloom had 
disappeared from her beautiful cheek ; 
but her high spirit, though oppressed, 
was not broken, and she stood firmly 
and calmly amid the scowling skies 
and lowering tempests. You fancied 
you saw her auburn tresses stirred 
upon her pale but calm brow by the 
breath of the approaching storm ; and 
that she also felt it, but trembled not, 
gazing on it with a bright and stead- 
fast eye. Her heart might be, indeed, 
bruised and shaken ; but her spirit 
was, ay, unconquerable. My glorious 
Kate, how my heart goes forth towards 
you! 

And thou, her brother, who art of 
kindred spirit ; who art supported by 
philosophy, and exalted by religion, 
so that thy constancy cannot be 
shaken or overthrown hj the black 
and ominous swell of trouble which is 
increasing and closing around thee, I 
know that thou wilt outlive the storm 
— and yet it rocks thee ! 

A month or two may see thee and 
thine expelled from Old Yatton, and 
not merely having lost everything, 
but with a liability to thy successor 
that will hang round thy neck like a 
millstone. What, indeed, is to be- 
come of you all ? "Whither will you 
go ? And your suffering mother, 
should she survive so long, is her 
precious form to be borne away from 
Yatton ? 

Around thee stand those who, if 
thou fallest, will perish — and that 
thou knowest : around thy calm, sor- 
rowful, but erect figure, are a melan- 
choly group— thy afflicted mother — 
the wife of thy bosom — thy two little 
children — thy brave and beautiful 
sister— Yet think not, Misfortune ! 
that over this man thou art about to 
achieve thy accustomed triumphs. 
Here, behold thou hast a man to con- 



tend with ; nay, more, a Chkistian 
man, who hath calmly girded up his 
loins against the coming fight ! 

'Twas Sabbath evening, some five 
weeks or so after the happening of the 
mournful events above commemorated, 
and Kate, having spent, as usual, 
several hours keeping watch beside 
the silent and motionless figure of h :r 
mother, had quitted the chamber for 
a brief interval, thinking to relieve 
her oppressed spirits by walking, for 
a little while, up and down the long 
gallery. Having slowly paced back- 
wards and forwards once or twice, she 
rested against the little oriel window 
at the furthest extremity of the gallery, 
and gazed, with saddened eye, upon 
the setting sun, till at length, in calm 
grandeur, it disappeared beneath the 
horizon. 'Twas to Kate a solemn and 
mournful sign ; especially followed as 
it was by the deepening shadows and 
gloom of evening. She sighed ; and, 
with her hands crossed on her bosom, 
gazed, with a tearful eye, into the 
darkening sky, where glittered the 
brilliant evening star. Thus she re- 
mained, a thousand pensive and tender 
thoughts passing through her mind, 
till the increasing chills of evening 
warned her to retire. "I will go," 
said she to herself, as she walked 
slowly along, ' ' and try to play the 
evening hymn — I may not have many 
more opportunities ! " With this view, 
she gently opened the drawing-room 
door, and, glancing around, found 
that she should be alone. The fire 
gave the only light. She opened the 
organ with a sigh, and then sat down 
before it for some minutes without 
touching the keys. At length she 
struck them very gently, as if fearful 
of disturbing those who, she soon 
recollected, were too distant to hear 
her. Ah ! how many associations 
were stirred up as she played over 
the simple and solemn air ! At length, 
in a low and rather tremulous voice, 
she begun — 
" Soon will the evening star, with silver ray, 

Shed its mild radiance o'er the sacred day ; 

Resume we, then, ere night and silence 
reign, 

The rites which holiness and heaven, 
ordain " 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



aoi 



She sang the last line somewhat 
indistinctly ; and, overcome by a flood 
of tender recollections, ceased playing ; 
then, leaning her head upon her hand, 
she shed tears. At length she re- 
sumed — 

"Here humbly lot us hope our Maker's 
smile 
Will crown with sweet success our earthly 

toil- 
And here, on each returning Sabbath, 
join " 

Here poor Kate's voice quivered — 
and, after one or two ineffectual at- 
tempts to sing the next line, she 
sobbed, and ceased playing. She re- 
mained for several minutes, her face 
buried in her handkerchief, shedding 
tears. At length, "I'll play the last 
verse," thought she, "and then sit 
down before the fire, and read over 
the evening service, (feeling for her 
little prayer-book,) before I return to 
poor mamma ! " With a firmer hand 
and voice she proceeded — 

" Father of Heaven ! in whom our hopes 
confide, 

Whose power defends us, and whose pre- 
cepts guide — 

In life our guardian, and in death our 
friend, 

Glory supreme be thine, till time shall 
end ! " 

She played and sang these lines with 
a kind of solemn energy ; and she felt 
as if a ray of heavenly light had trem- 
bled for a moment upon her upturned 
eye. She had not been, as she had 
supposed, alone ; in the furthest corner 
of the room had been all the while 
sitting her brother — too exquisitely 
touched by the simplicity and good- 
ness of his sweet sister, to apprize her 
of his presence. Several times his 
feelings had nearly overpowered him ; 
and as she concluded, he arose from 
his chair, and approaching her, after 
her first surprise was over, — " Heaven 
bless you, dear Kate ! " said he, taking 
her hands in his own. Neither of 
them spoke for a few moments. 

"I could not have sung a line, or 
played, if I had known that you were 
here," said she. 

"I thought so, Kate." 

"I don't think I shall ever have 



heart to play again ! " — They were 
both silent. 

" Be assured, Kate, that submission 
to the will of God," said Mr. Aubrey, 
as (he with his arm round his sister) 
they walked slowly to and fro, "is the 
great lesson to be learned from the 
troubles of life ; and for that purpose 
they are sent. Let us bear up a while ; 
the waters will not go over our heads ! " 

"I hope not," replied his sister 
faintly, and in tears. 

' ' How did you leave Agnes, 
Charles?" 

" She was asleep: she is still very 
feeble. " Here the door was sud- 
denly opened, and Miss Aubrey's maid 
entered hastily, exclaiming, " Are you 
here, ma'am ? — or sir 1 " 

" Here we are," they replied, hurry- 
ing towards her ; " what is the 
matter ? " 

"Oh, madam is talking! She be- 
gan speaking all of a sudden. She 
did, indeed, sir. She's talking, 

and " continued the girl, almost 

breathless. 

"My mother talking !" exclaimed 
Aubrey, with an amazed air. 

' ' Oh yes, sir ! she is — she is in- 
deed ! " 

Miss Aubrey sank into her brother's 
arms, overcome for a moment with the 
sudden and surprising intelligence. 

" Rouse youiself, Kate ! " he ex- 
claimed with animation; "did I not 
tell you that Heaven would not forget 
us ? But I must hasten up-stairs, to 
hear the joyful sounds with my own 
ears — and do you follow as soon as you 
can. " Leaving her in the care of her 
maid, he hastened out of the room up- 
stairs, and was soon at the door of his 
mother's chamber. He stood for a 
moment in the doorway, and his 
straining ears caught the gentle tones 
of his mother's voice, speaking in a 
low but cheerful tone. His knees 
trembled beneath him with joyful 
excitement. Fearful of trusting him- 
self in her presence till he had become 
calmer, he noiselessly sank on the 
nearest chair, with beating heart and 
straining ear — ay, every tone of that 
dear voice thrilled through his heart. 
But I shall not torture my own or my 



202 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



reader's heart by dwelling upon the 
scene that ensued. Alas ! the venerable 
sufferer's tongue was indeed loosed ; — 
but reason had fled ! He listened — he 
distinguished her words. She supposed 
that all her children— dead and alive — 
were romping about her ; she spoke of 
him and. his sister as she had spoken 
to them twenty years ago. 

As soon as he had made this sad 
discovery, overwhelmed with grief he 
staggered out of the room ; and motion- 
ing his sister, who was entering, into 
an adjoining apartment, communicated 
to her, with great agitation, the woful 
condition of their mother. 



CHAPTER XII. 

The chief corner-stone suddenly 
found wanting in the glittering fabric 
of Mr. Titmouse's fortune, so that to 
the i yes of its startled architects, 
Messrs. t^uirk, Gammon, and Snap, it 
Beemed momentarily threatening to 
tumble about their ears, was a cer- 
tain piece of evidence which, brine; a 
matter-of-fact man, I should .like to 
explain to the reader before we get on 
any further. In order, however, to do 
this effectually, I must go back to an 
earlier period in the history than has 
been yet called to his attention. If it 
shall have been unfortunate enough to 
attract the hasty eye of the superficial 
and impatient iion l-vc:vlvr, I make no 
doubt that by such a one certain 2'or- 
tions of what has gone before, and 
which could not fail of attracting the 
attention of long-headed people, as 
being not thrown in for nothing, (and 
therefore to be borne in mind with a 
view to subsequent explanation,) have 
been entirely overlooked or forgotten. 
Now, I can fancy that the sort of 
reader whom I have in my eye, as one 
whose curiosity it is worth some pains 
to excite, and sustain, has more than 
once asked himself the following ques- 
tion, viz. — 

How did Messrs. .Quirk, Gammon, 
and Snap, first come to be acquainted 
with the precarious tenure by which 



Mr. Aubrey held the Yatton property ? 
Why, it chanced in this wise. 

Mr. Parkinson of Grilston, who has 
been already introduced to the reader, 
succeeded to his late father, in one of 
the most respectable practices^ as a 
country attorney and solicitor in York- 
shire. He was a highly honourable, 
painstaking man, and deservedly en- 
joyed the entire confidence of all his 
numerous and influential clients. Some 
twelve years before the period at which 
this history commences, Mr. Parkinson, 
who was a very kind-hearted man, had 
taken into his service an orphan boy of 
the name of Steggars, at first merely as 
a sort of errand-boy, and to look after 
the office. He soon, however, displayed 
so much sharpness, and acquitted him- 
self so creditably in anything that he 
happened to be concerned in, a little 
above the run of his ordinary duties, 
that in the course of a year or two he 
became a sort of clerk, and sat and 
wrote at the desk it had formerly been 
his sole province to dust. Higher and 
higher did he rise, in process of time, 
in his master's estimation ; and at 
length became quite a factotum— as 
such, acquainted with the whole course 
of business that passed through the 
office. Many interesting matters con- 
nected with the circumstances and 
connexions of the neighbouring no- 
bility and gentry were thus cbnstantly 
brought under his notice, and now and 
then set him thinking whether the 
knowledge thus acquired could not, in 
some way, and at some time or another, 
be turned to his own advantage ; for I 
am sorry to say that he was utterly 
unworthy of the kindness and confi- 
dence of Mr. Parkinson, who little 
thought that in Steggars he had to 
deal with — a rogue in grain. Such 
being his character, and such his 
opportunities, this worthy made a 
practice of minuting down, from time 
to time, anything of interest or im- 
portance in the affairs which thus came 
under hls notice __ laborious l y 

fffiS + r g docu ment Sj when he 
fo, nt n m ° f importance enough 
tunitv o? T- 086 ' and had *te oppor- 
the attenHnr g /^ Without attracting 
the attentaon of Mr. Parkinson. He 



TEN THOUSAND A-VEAK. 



ao3 



thus silently acquired a mass of in- 
formation which might have enabled 
him to occasion great annoyance, and 
even inflict serious injury ; and the 
precise object he had in view, was 
either to force himself, hereafter, into 
partnership with his employer, (pro- 
vided he could get regularly introduced 
into the profession,) or even compel 
his master's clients to receive him into 
their confidence, adversely to Mr. 
Parkinson, making it worth his while 
tn keep the secrets of which he had 
become possessed. So careful ought 
to be, and indeed generally are, at- 
torneys and solicitors, as to the 
characters of those whom they thus 
receive into their employ. On the 
occasion of Mr. Aubrey's intended 
marriage with Miss St. Clair, with a 
view to the very liberal settlements 
which he contemplated, a full abstract 
of his title was laid by Mr. Parkinson 
before his conveyancer, in order to 
advise and prepare the necessary in- 
struments. Owing to enquiries sug- 
gested by the conveyancer, additional 
statements were laid before him ; and 
produced an opinion of a somewhat 
unsatisfactory description, from which 
I shall lay before the reader the 
following paragraph : — 

"There seems no reason for sup- 
posing that any descendant of Stephen 
Dreddlington is now in existence : 
still, as it is by no means physically 
impossible that such a person may be 
in esse, it would unquestionably be 
most important to the security of Mr. 
Aubrey's title, to establish clearly the 
validity of the conveyance by way of 
mortgage, executed by Harry Dred- 
dlington, and which was afterwards 
assigned to Geoffry Dreddlington on 
his paying off the money borrowed by 
his deceased uncle : since the descent 
of Mr. Aubrey from Geoffry Dred- 
dlington would, in that event, clothe 
him with an indefeasible title at law, 
by virtue of that deed ; and any 
equitable rights which were originally 
outstanding, would be barred by lapse 
of time. But the difficulty occurring 
to my mind on this part of the case is, 
that unless Harry Dreddlington, who 
executed that deed of mortgage, Sur- 



vived his father, (a point on which I 
am surprised that 1 am furnished with 
no information, ) the deed itself would 
have been mere waste parchment, as in 
reality the conveyance of a person who 
never had any interest in the Yatton 
property — and, of course, neither 
Geoffry Dreddlington, nor his de- 
scendant Mr. Aubrey, could derive 
any right whatever under such an 
instrument. In that case^ such a 
contingency as I have above hinted 
at — I mean the existence of any 
legitimate descendant of Stephen 
Dret^llington — might have a most 
serious effect upon the rights of Mr. 
Aubrey. " 

Now every line bf this opinion, and 
also even of the Abstract of Title 
upon which it was written, did this 
quick-sighted young scoundrel copy 
out, and deposit, as a great prize, in 
his desk, among other similar notes 
and memoranda, little wotting his 
master the while of what he was 
doing. Some year or two afterwards, 
the relationship subsisting between 
Mr. Parkinson and his clerk Steggars, 
was suddenly determined by a some- 
what untoward event ; viz ; by the 
latter's decamping with the sum of 
£700 sterling, being the amount of 
money due on a hiortgage which lie 
had been sent to receive from a client 
of Mr. Parkinson's. Steggars fled for 
it — but first having bethought himself 
of the documents to which I have 
been alluding, and which he carried 
with him to London. Hot pursuit 
was made after the unfortunate de- 
linquent, who was taken into custody 
two or three days after his arrival in 
town, while he was walking about the 
streets, with the whole of the sum 
which he had embezzled, miws a few 
pounds, upon his person, in bank- 
notes, lie quickly found his way 
into Newgate. His natural sagacity 
assured him that his case was rather 
an ugly one ; but hope did not desert 
him. 

"Well, my kiddy," said Grasp, the 
grim-visaged, grey-headed turnkey, as 
soon as he had ushered Steggars into 
his snug little quarters; "here you 
are, you see — isn't you. V 



204 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



"I think I am," replied Steggars, 
with a sigh. 

"Well — and if you want to have 
a chance of not going across the water 
till you're a many years older, you'll 
get yourself defended, and the sooner 
the better, d'ye see. There's Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap — my eyes ! how 
they do thin this here place of ours, 
to be sure ! The only thing's to get 
'em soon ; 'cause, ye see, they're so 
run after. Shall I send them to 
you ? " 

Steggars answered eagerly in the 
affirmative. In order to account for 
this spontaneous good-nature on the 
part of Grasp, I must explain that 
old Mr. Quirk had for years secured 
a large criminal practice, by having in 
his interest most of the officers attached 
to the police-offices and Newgate, to 
whom he gave, in fact, systematic 
gratuities, in order to get their recom- 
mendations to the persecuted indi- 
viduals who came into their power. 
Very shortty after Grasp's messenger 
had reached Saffron Hill, with the 
intelligence that ' ' there was some- 
thing new in the trap," old Quirk 
bustled down to Newgate, and was 
introduced to Steggars, with whom he 
was closeted for some time. He took 
a lively interest in his new companion, 
whose narrative of his flight and cap- 
ture he listened to in a very kind and 
sympathizing way, and promised to 
do for him whatever his little skill 
and experience could do. He hinted, 
however, that, as Mr. Steggars must 
be aware, a little ready money would 
be required, in order to fee counsel — 
whereat Steggars looked very dismal 
indeed, and, knowing the state of his 
exchequer, imagined himself already 
on shipboard, on his way to Botany 
Bay. Old Mr. Quirk asked him if he 
had no friends who would raise a trifle 
for a "chum in trouble," — and on 
answering in the negative, he observed 
the enthusiasm of the respectable old 
gentleman visibly and rapidly cooling 
down. 

" But 1 11 tell you what, sir," said 
poor Steggars, suddenly, "if I haven't 
money, I may have money's worth at 
my command ; — I've a little box, that's 



at my lodging, which those that got 
me knew nothing of — and in which 
there is a trifle or two about the fami- 
lies and fortunes of some of the first 
folk in Yatton, that would be precious 
well worth looking after, to those that 
know how to follow up such matters." 

Old Quirk hereat pricked up his 
ears, and asked his young friend how 
he got possessed of such secrets. 

"Oh fie ! fie ! " said he gently, as 
soon as Steggars had told him the 
practices of which I have already piit 
the reader in possession. 

' ' Ah — you may say fie ! fie ! if you 
like," quoth Steggars earnestly; "but 
the thing is, not how they were come, 
by, but what can be done with them, 
now they're got. For example, there's 
a certain member of parliament in 
Yorkshire, that, high as he may hold 
his head, has no more right to the 
estates that yield him a good ten thou- 
sand a-year than I have, but keeps 
some folk out of their own, that could 
pay some other folk a round sum to 
be put in the way of getting their 
own ; " and that was only one of the 
good things he knew of. Here old 
Quirk rubbed his chin, hemmed, 
fidgetted about in his seat, took off his 
glasses, wiped them, replaced them ; 
and presently went through that cere- 
mony again. He then said that he 
had the honour of being concerned for 
a great number of gentlemen iu Mr. 
Steggars' "present embarrassed cir- 
cumstances," but who had always been 
able to command at least a five-pound 
note, at starting, to run a heat for 
liberty. 

"Come, come, old gentleman," 
quoth Steggars earnestly, " I don't want 
to go over the water before my time, if 
I can help it, I assure you ; and I see 
you know the value of what I've got ! 
Such a gentleman as you can turn 
every bit of paper I have in my box 
into a fifty -pound note." 

"All this is moonshine, my young 
friend," said old Quirk in an irresolute 
tone and manner. 

"Ah! is it, though? To be able 
to tell the owner of a fat ten thousand 
a-year, that you can spring a mine 
under his feet at any moment eh ? 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAII. 



205 



and no one ever know how you came 
by your knowledge. And if they 
wouldn't do what was handsome, 
couldn't you ejet the right heir — and 
wouldn't that — Lord ! it would make 
the fortunes of half-a-dozen of the first 
houses in the profession ! " Old Quirk 
got a little excited. 

"But mind, sir — you see" — said 
Steggars, "if I get off, I'm not to be 
cut out of the thing altogether — eh ? 
I shall look to be taken into your 
employ, and dealt handsomely by " 

" Oh Lord ! " exclaimed Quirk in- 
voluntarily — adding quickly, " Yes, 
yes ! to be sure ! only fair ; but let us 
first get you out of your present diffi- 
culty, you know ! " Steggars, having 
first exacted from him a written pro- 
mise to use his utmost exertions on his 
(Steggars') behalf, and secure him the 
services of two of the most eminent 
Old Bailey counsel — viz. Mr. Bluster 
and Mr. Slang — gave Mr. Quirk the 
number of the house where his precious 
box was, and a written order to the 
landlord to deliver it up to the bearer : 
after which Mr. Quirk shook him cor- 
dially by the hand, and having quitted 
the prison, made his way straight to 
the house in question, and succeeded 
in obtaining what he asked for. He 
faithfully performed his agreement 
with Steggars ; for he retained both 
Bluster and Slang for him, and got 
up their briefs with care : but, alas ! 
although these eminent men exerted all 
their great powers, they succeeded not 
in either bothering the judge, bam- 
boozling the jury, or browbeating the 
witnesses, (the principal one of whom 
was Mr. Parkinson ;) Steggars was 
found guilty, and sentenced to be 
transported for life. Enraged at this 
issue, he sent a message the next day 
to Mr. Quirk requesting a visit from 
him. When he arrived, Steggars, in 
a very violent tone, demanded that 
his papers should be returned to him. 
'Twas in vain that Mr. Quirk explained 
to him again and again his interesting 
position with reference to his goods, 
chattels, and effects — i. e. that, as a 
convicted felon, he had no further con- 
cern with them, and might dismiss all 
anxiety on that score from his mind. 



Steggars hereat got more lurious than 
before, and intimated plainly the 
course he should feel it his duty to 
pursue — that, if the papers in question 
were not given up to him as he desired, 
he should at once write off to his late 
employer, Mr. Parkinson, and acknow- 
ledge how much further he (Steggars) 
had wronged him and his clients than 
he supposed of. Old Quirk very feel- 
ingly represented to him that he was at 
liberty to do anything that he thought 
calculated to relieve his excited feel- 
ings : and then Mr. Quirk took a final 
farewell of his client, wishing him 
health and happiness. 

" I say, Grasp ! " said he, in a whis- 
per, to that grim functionary, as soon 
as he had secured poor Steggars in his 
cell, "that bird is a little ruffled just 
now — isn't he, think you ? " 

" Lud, sir, the nat'ralist thing in 
the world, considering " 

"Well — if he should want a letter 
taken to any one, whatever he may 
say to the contrary, you'll send it on 
to Saffron Hill— eh ? Understand ?— 
He may be injuring himself, you 
know ; " and old Quirk with one hand 
clasped the huge arm of Grasp in a 
familiar way, and with the forefinger 
of the other touched his own nose, and 
then winked his eye. 

"All right!" quoth Grasp, and 
they parted. Within a very few hours' 
time, Mr. Quirk received, by the hand 
of a trusty messenger, from Grasp, a 
letter written by Steggars to Mr. Par- 
kinson ; a long and eloquent letter to 
the purport and effect which Steggars 
had intimated. Mr. Quirk read it with 
much satisfaction, for it disclosed a 
truly penitent feeling, and a desire to 
undo as much mischief as the writer 
had done. He (Mr. Quirk) was not 
in the least exasperated by certain 
very plain terms in which his own name 
was mentioned ; but, making all due 
allowances, quietly put the letter in 
the fire as soon as he had read it. In 
due time Mr. Steggars, whose health 
had suffered from close confinement, 
caught frequent whiffs of the fresh 
sea-breeze, having set out, under most 
favourable auspices, for Botany Bay ; 
to which distant but happy place, he 



206 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



had been thug fortunate in securing, 
so early, an. appointment far life. 

Such, then, were the miserable 
means by which Mr. Quirk became 
acquainted with the exact state of 
Mr. Aubrey s title : on first becoming 
apprised of which, Mr. Gammon either 
felt, or affected, great repugnance to 
taking any part in the affair. He 
appeared to suffer himself, at length, 
however, to be over-persuaded by 
Quirk into acquiescence ; and, that 
point gained — having ends in view 
of which Mr. Quirk had not the least 
conception, and which, in fact, had but 
suddenly occurred to Mr. Gammon 
himself — worked his materials with a 
caution, skill, energy, and perseverance, 
which soon led to important results. 
Guided by the suggestions of acute 
and experienced counsel, after much 
pains and considerable expense, they 
succeeded in discovering that precious 
specimen of humanity, Tittlebat Tit- 
mouse, who hath already figured so pro- 
minently in this history. When they 
came to set down on paper the result 
of all their researches and enquiries, 
in order to submit it in the shape of a 
case for the opinion of Mr. Mortmain 
and Mr. Frankpledge, in the manner 
which has been already described, it 
looked perfect on paper, as many a 
faulty pedigree and abstract of title 
had looked before, and will yet look. 
It was quite possible for even Mr. 
Tresayle himself to overlppk the defect 
which had been pointed out by Mr. 
Subtle. That which is stated to a 
conveyancer as a fad — any particular 
event, for instance, as of a death, a 
birth, or a marriage, at a particular 
time, which the very nature of the 
case renders highly probable — he may 
easily assume to be so. But when the 
same statement comes under the acute 
and experienced eye of a nisi prius 
lawyer, who knows that he will have 
to prove his case, step by step, the 
aspect of things is soon changed. " De 
non apparentibus, et de non existenti- 



bit,?," saith Lord Cpke, "eadem est 
ratio." The first practitioner at the 
common law before whom the case 
came, in its roughest and earliest form, 
in order that he might ' ' lick it into 
shape," and "advise generally," pre- 
paratory to its " being laid before 
counsel," was Mr. Traverse, a young 
pleader, whom Messrs. Quirk and 
Gammon were disposed to take by the 
hand. He wrote a very showy, but 
superficial and delusive opinion; and 
put the intended proUge of his clients, 
as it were by a kind of hop, step, and 
jump, into possession of the Yatton 
estates. Quirk was quite delighted 
on reading it ; but Gammon shook his 
head with a somewhat sarcastic smile, 
and said he would at once prepare 
a case for the opinion of Mr. Lynx, 
whom he had pitched upon as the 
junior counsel in any proceedings 
which might be instituted in a court 
of law. Lynx (of whom I shall speak 
hereafter) was an experienced, hard- 
headed, vigilant, and accurate lawyer ; 
the very rnan for such a case, requir- 
ing, as it did, most patient and minute 
examination. With an eye fitted 

" To inspect a mite, not comprehend the 
heaven," 

he prawled, as it were, over a case ; 
and thus, like as one can imagine that 
a beetle creeping over the floor of St. 
Paul's would detect minute flaws and 
fissures that would be invisible to the 
eye of Sir Christopher Wren himself, 
spied out defects that much nobler 
optics would have overlooked. To 
come to plain matter-of-fact, however, 
I have beside me the original opinion 
written by Mr. Lynx ; and shall treat 
the reader to a taste of it — giving him 
sufficient to enable him to appreciate 
the ticklish position of affairs with 
Mr. Titmouse. To make it not alto- 
gether unintelligible, let us suppose 
the state of the pedigree to be some- 
thing like this (as far as concerns our 
present purpose) : — 



TEN THOUSAND A -YEAR. 
(Dbepplington. ) 



207 



:lutvD.) 



(Charles D.) 



(Stephen D.) 



(A female descendant 
marries Gabriel Tittlebat 
Titmouse, through whom 

Tittlebat Titmouse 
claims.) 

Be pleased now, unlearned reader, 
to bear in mind that " Dreddlington," 
at the top of the above table, is the 
common ancestor ; having two sons, 
the elder "Harry D.," the younger 
"Charles D. ;" which latter has, in 
like manner, two sons, " Stephen D." 
the elder son, and "Geoffry D." the 
younger son ; that Mr. Aubrey, at 
present in possession, claims under 
" Geoffry D." Now it will be incum- 
bent on Titmouse, in the first instance, 
to establish in himself a clear inde- 
pendent title to the estates ; it being 
sufficient for Mr. Aubrey, (possession 
being nine- tenths of the law,) to falsify 
Titmouse's proofs, or show them defec- 
tive — "because," saith a very learned 
sergeant, who hath writ a text-book 
upon the Action of Ejectment, "the 
plaintiff in an action of ejectment 
must recover upon the strength of his 
own title, not the weakness of his 
adversary's." 

Now, things standing thus, behold 
the astute Lynx advising (inter alia) 
in manner following ; that is to say — 

"It appears clear that the lessor of 
the plaintiff (i. e. Tittlebat Titmouse) 
will be able to prove that Dreddling- 
ton (the common ancestor) was seised 
of the estate at Yatton in the year 
1740 ; that he had two sons, Harry 
and Charles, the former of whom, alter 
a life of dissipation, appears to have 
died without issue ; and that from the 
latter (Charles).are descended fetepnen, 



(Geoffry D.) 



(A female descendant 

marries Charles Aubrey, Esq., 

father of the present 

possessor.) 



the ancestor of the lessor of the plain- 
tiff, and Geoffry the ancestor of the 
defendant. Assuming, therefore, that 
the descent of the lessor of the plaintiff 
from Stephen, can be made out, as 
there appears every reason to expect, 
[on this point Lynx had written four 
brief pages,] a clear prima facie case 
will be established on the part of the 
lessor of the plaintiff. As, however, 
it is suspected that Harry D. executed 
a conveyance in fee of the property, in 
order to secure the loan contracted by 
him from Aaron Moses, it will be ex- 
tremely important to ascertain, and, if 
possible, procure satisfactory evidence, 
that his decease occurred before the 
period at which, by his father's death, 
that conveyance could have become 
operative upon the property : since it 
is obvious that, should he have sur- 
vived his father, that instrument, being 
outstanding, may form a complete 
answer to the case of the lessor of the 
plaintiff. The danger will be obviously 
increased, should the debt to Aaron 
Moses prove to have been paid off, as 
is stated to be rumoured, by Geoffry 
D., the younger son of Charles D. : 
for, should that turn out to be the 
case, he would probably have taken a 
conveyance to himself, or to trustees for 
his benefit, from Aaron Moses — which 
being in the power of the defendant, 
Mr. Aubrey, would enable him to make 
out a title to the property, paramount 
to that now attempted to be set up on 



208 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



behalf of Mr. Titmouse. Every pos- 
sible exertion, therefore, should be 
made to ascertain the precise period of 
the death of Harry D. The registries 
of the various parishes in which the 
family may have at any time resided, 
should be carefully searched ; and an 
examination made in the churches and 
churchyards, of all tombstones, escut- 
cheons, &c, belonging, or supposed to 
belong, to the Dreddlington family, 
and by which any light can be thrown 
upon this most important point. It 
appears clear that Dreddlington (the 
common ancestor) died on the 7th 
August 1742 : — the question, therefore, 
simply is, ivhether the death of his eldest 
son {Harry) took place prior or subse- 
quent to that period. It is to be feared 
that the defendant may be in possession 
of some better evidence on this point 
than is possessed by the lessor of the 
plaintiff. The natural presumption 
certainly seems to be, that the son, 
being the younger and stronger man, 
was the survivor." 

The above-mentioned opinion of Mr. 
Lynx, together with that of Mr. Subtle 
entirely corroborating it, (and which 
was alluded to in a late chapter of this 
history, ) and a pedigree, were lying on 
the table, one day, at the office at 
Saffron Hill, before the anxious and 
perplexed parties, Messrs. Quirk and 
Gammon. 

Gammon was looking attentively, 
and with a very chagrined air, at the 
pedigree ; and Quirk was looking at 
Gammon. 

"Now, Gammon," said the former, 
"just let me see again where the 
exact hitch is — eh ? You'll think me 
perhaps infernally stupid, but — curse 
me if I can see it ! " 

" See it, my dear sir ? Here, lure .' " 
replied Gammon with sudden impa- 
tience, putting his finger two or three 
times to the words "Harry D." 

" Lord bless us ! Don't be so sharp 
with one, Gammon ! I know as well 
as you that that's about where the 
crack is ; but what is the precise thing 
we're in want of, eh ? " 

"Proof, my dear sir, of the death 
of Harry Dreddlington some time — iio 
matter when — previous to the 7th 



August 1742 ; and in default thereof, 
Mr. Quirk, we are all flat on our backs, 
and had better never have stirred in 
the business." 

" You know, Gammon, you're better 
up in these matters than I — (only 
because I've not been able to turn my 
attention to 'em since I first began 
business) — so just tell me, in a word, 
what good's to be got by showing that 
fellow to have died in his father's life- 
time ? " 

"You don't show your usual acute- 
ness, Mr. Quirk," replied Gammon 
blandly. " It is to make waste paper 
of that confounded conveyance whicli 
he executed, and which Mr. Aubrey 
has, and with which he may, at a 
stroke, cut the ground from under our 
feet." 

" The very thought makes one feel 
quite funny — don't it, Gammon?" 
quoth Quirk, with a flustered air. 

"It may well do so, Mr. Quirk. 
Now we are fairly embarked in a cause 
where success will be attended with so 
many splendid results, Mr. Quirk — 
though I'm sure you'll always bear me 
out in saying how very unwilling I 
was to take advantage of the villany 
of that miscreant Steg — hem " 

" Gammon, Gammon, you're always 
harking back to that — I'm tired of 
hearing on't ! " 

"Well, now we're in it, I don't see 
why we should allow ourselves to be 
baffled by trifles. The plain question 
is, undoubtedly, whether we are to 
stand still, or go on." Mr. Quirk 
gazed at Mr. Gammon with an anxious 
and puzzled look. 

" How d'ye make out — in a legal 
way, you know, Gammon — when a 
man died — I mean, of a natural 
death ? " enquired Quirk, who was 
familiar enough with the means of 
proving the exact hour of certain 
violent deaths at Debtor's Door. 

" Oh ! there are various methods of 
doing so, my dear sir," replied Gam- 
mon carelessly. "Entries in family- 
bibles and prayer-books, registers, 
tombstones — ay, by the way, an old 
tombstone," continued Gammon 
musingly, "that would settle the 
business ! " 



Ti^X THOUSAND A- YEAH. 



209 



" An old tombstone ! " echoed Quirk 
briskly. " Lord, Gammon, so it would ! 
That's an idea ! — 1 call that a decided 
idea, Gammon. 'Twould be the very 
thing ! " 

"The very thing !" repeated Gam- 
mon, pointedly. They remained 
silent for some moments. 

" Snap could not have looked about 
him sharply enough, when he was 
down at Yatton ! " at length observed 
Quirk, in a low tone flushing all over 
as he uttered the last words, and felt 
Gammon's cold grey eye settled on 
him like that of a snake. 

" lie could not, indeed, my dear 
sir," replied Gammon, while Quirk 
continued gazing earnestly at him, 
now and then wriggling about in his 
chair, rubbing his chin, and drumming 
with his fingers on the table. — "And 
now that you've suggested the thing, 
it's not. to be wondered at — you know, 
it would have been an old tombstone 
— a sort of fragment of a tombstone, 
perhaps — so deeply sunk in the ground, 
probably, as easily to have escaped 
observation, eh? Does not it strike 
you so, Mr. Quirk ? " All this was said 
by Gammon in a musing manner, and 
in a very low tone of voice ; and he 
was delighted to find his words sinking 
into the eager mind of his companion. 

" Ah, Gammon ! " exclaimed Quirk, 
with a sound of partly a sigh, and 
partly a whistle, (the former being the 
exponent of the true state of his feel- 
ings, i. c. anxiety — the latter of what 
he wished to appear the state of his 
feelings, i. e. indifference. ) 

"Yes, Mr. Quirk?" 

'' You're a deep devil, Gammon — 
I will say that for you ! " replied 
Quirk, glancing towards each door, 
and, as it were, unconsciously drawing 
his chair a little closer to that of 
Gammon. 

" Xay, my dear sir ! " said Gammon, 
with a deferential and deprecating 
smile, " you give me credit for an 
acuteness I feel I do not deserve ! If, 
indeed, I had not had your sagacity 
to rely upon, ever since I have had the 
honour of being connected with you 

ah, Mr. Quirk, you know you lead 

— I follow " 



"Gammon, Gammon ! Come — your 

name's Oily " 

"Inmoments like these, Mr. Quirk, 
I say nothing that I do not feel," 
interrupted Gammon gravely, putting 
to his nose the least modicum of snuil' 
which he could take with the tip of 
his finger out of the huge box of Mr. 
Quirk, who, just then, was thrusting 
immense pinches every half minute up 
his nostrils. 

" It will cost a great deal of money 
to find that same tombstone, Gam- 
mon ! " said Quirk, in almost a whis- 
per, and paused, looking intently at 
Gammon. 

" I think this is a different kind of 
snuff from that which you usually 
take, Mr. Quirk, isn't it ? " enquired 
Gammon, as he inserted the tips of 
his fingers into the box. 

' ' The same — the same, " replied 
Quirk mechanically. 

"You are a man better equal to 
serious emergencies than any man I 
ever came near," said Gammon; "I 
perceive that you have hit the nail on 
the head, as indeed you always do." 

" Tut ! Stuff, Gammon ; you're 
every bit as good a hand as I am." 
Gammon smiled, shook his head, and 
shrugged his shoulders. 

' ' 'Tis that practical sagacity of 
yours," said Gammon — "you know it 
as well as I can tell you — that has 
raised you to your present professional 
eminence." He paused, and looked 
very sincerely at his senior partner. 

"Well, I must own I think I do 
know a trick or two," quoth Quirk, 
with a sort of grunt of gratification. 

"Ay, and further, there are some 
clever men that never can keep their 
own counsel ; but are like a hen that 
has just laid an egg, and then goes 
foolishly cackling about everywhere, 
and then her egg is taken away ; but 

you " 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed Quirk ; " that's 
devilish good, Gammon ! — Capital ! 
Gad, I think I see the hen ! Ha, 
ha!" 

"Ha, ha!" echoed Gammon gen- 
tly. " But to be serious, Mr. Quirk ; 
what I was joing to say was, that I 
thoroughly appreciate your admirable 



210 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAIl. 



caution in not confiding to any one-- 
no, not even to me — the exact means 
by which you intend to extricate us 
from our present dilemma."- Here 
Quirk got very fidgety, and twirled 
his watch-key violently. 

"Hem! But — hem! Ay — a — a," 
he grunted, looking with an uneasy 
air at his calm astute companion ; "I 
didn't mean so much as all that, either, 
Gammon ; for two heads, in my opinion, 
are better than one. You must own 
that, Gammon ! " said he, not at all 
relishing the heavy burden of respon- 
sibility which he felt that Gammon 
was about to devolve upon his (Quirk's) 
shoulders exclusively. 

" 'Tis undoubtedly rather a serious 
business on which we are now enter- 
ing, " said Gammon ; ' ' and I have 
always admired a saying which you 
years ago told me of that great man 
Machiavel " 

[Oh, Gammon ! Gammon ! You well 
know that poor old Mr. Quirk never 
heard of the name of that same Machi- 
avel till this moment !] — 

"That 'when great affairs are stir- 
ring, a master-move should be confined 
to the master-mind that projects it.' 
I understand ! I see ! I will not, 
therefore, enquire into the precise 
means by which I am satisfied you 
will make it appear, in due time, 
(while I am engaged getting up the 
subordinate, but very harassing details 
of the general case,) that Henry Drcd- 
dlington died before the 7th of August 
1742." Here, taking out his watch — 
" Bless me, Mr. Quirk, how time 
passes ! — Two o'clock ! I ought to 
have been at Messrs. Gregson's a 
quarter of an hour ago." 

"Stop — a moment or two can't 
signify ! It — it," said Quirk hesitat- 
ingly, "it was you, wasn't it, that 
thought of the tombstone ? " 

"1! — my dear Mr. Quirk" — inter- 
rupted Gammon, with a look of as- 
tonishment and deference. 

"Come, come' — ■ honour among 
thieves, you know, Gammon ! " said 
Quirk, trying to laugh. 

"No — it shall never be said that I 

attempted to take the credit of " 

commenced Gammon ; when a clerk, 



entering, put an end to the colloquy 
between the partners, each of whorrij 
presently, was sitting alone in his own 
room— for Gammon found that he was 
too late to think of keeping his en- 
gagement with Messrs. Gregson ; if 
indeed he had ever made any — which, 
in fact, he had not. Mr. Quirk sat in 
a musing posture for nearly half an 
hour after he and Gammon had separ- 
ated. " Gammon is a deep one ! I'll 
be shot if ever there was his equal," 
said Quirk to himself, at length ; and 
starting off his chair, with his hands 
crossed behind him, he walked softly 
to and fro. "I know what he's driving 
at — though he thought I didn't ! He'd 
let me scratch my hands in getting 
the blackberries, and then he'd come 
smiling in to eat > 'em ! But — share 
and share alike — share profit, share 
danger, Master Gammon ; — you may 
find that Caleb Quirk is a match for 
Oily Gammon — I'll have you in for it, 
one way or another ! " Here occurred 
a long pause in his thoughts. " Keally 
I doubt the thing's growing unman- 
ageable — the prize can't be worth the 
risk! — Risk, indeed — 'fore Gad — it's 

neither more nor less than " Here 

a certain picture hanging, covered with 
black crape, in the drawing-room at 
Alibi House, seemed to have glided 
down from its station, and to stand 
before his eyes with the crape drawn 
aside — a ghastly object — eugh ! He 
shuddered, and involuntarily closed 
his eyes. " How devilish odd that I 
should just now have happened to 
think of it ! " he inwardly exclaimed, 
sinking into his chair, in a sort of cold 
sweat. 

" D — n the picture ! " at length he 
exclaimed, almost loud, getting more 
and more flustered — " I'll burn it ! It 
sha'n't disgrace my drawing-room any 
longer ! " Here Quirk almost fancied 
that some busy little fiend sat squatting 
before the grisly picture, writing the 
words "Caleb Quirk " at the bottom 
of it ; and a sort of sickness came over 
him for a moment. Presently he start- 
ed up, and took down one of several 
well-worn 'dingy-looking books that 
stood on the shelves — a volume of 
Burns' Justice. Eesuming his seat, he 



TKN THOUSAND A- YEAH. 



211 



put on his glasses, and with a little; 
trepidation turned to the head "For- 
gery," and glanced over it, divided as 
it was into two great heads — " Forgery 
at Common Lair, and Forgery by 
Statute" with many able observations 
of the learned compiler, and important 
" cn.tas" cited. At length his eye lit 
upon a paragraph that seemed suddenly 
to draw his heart up into his throat, 
producing a sensation that made him 
involuntarily clap his hand upon his 
neck. 

"Oh, Gammon!!" he muttered, 
drawing off his glasses, sinking back in 
his chair, and looking towards the door 
that opened into Gammon's room ; in 
which direction he extended his right 
arm, and shook his fist. " You pre- 
cious villain ! — I've an uncommon in- 
clination," at length thought he, "to 
go down slap to Yorkshire — say no- 
thing to anybody — make peace with 
the enemy, and knock up the whole 
thing ! — For a couple of thousand 
pounds — a trifle to the Aubreys, I'm 
sure. "Were / in his place, I shouldn't 
grudge it ; and why should he ? — By 
Jove," he got a little heated — "that 
icould be, as Gammon has it, a master 
move! andconfined, egad ! to the master 
mind that thought of it ! — -Why should 
he ever know of the way in which the 
thing blew up ? — Really 'twould be 
worth half the money to do Gammon 
so hollow for onee — by George it would ! 
— Gammon, that would slip Caleb 
Quirk's neck so slyly into the halter, 
indeed ! " 

"I'll tell you what, Mr. Quirk," 
said Gammon, suddenly re-entering the 
room, after about an hour's absence, 
during which he too had, like his 
senior partner, been revolving many 
things in his mind — "it has occurred 
to me, that I had better immediately 
go down to Yatton, alone." 

Hereat Mr. Quirk opened both his 
eyes and his mouth to their very 
widest ; got very red in the face ; and 
stared at his placid partner with a 
mingled expression of fear and wonder. 
"Hang me, Gammon ! " at lenglh be 
exclaimed, desperately, slapping his 
fist upon the table — " if I don't think 
you're the very devil himself ! " — and 



ho sank back in his chair, verily be- 
lieving, in the momentary confusion 
of his thoughts, that what had been 
passing through his mind was known 
to Gammon ; or that what had been 
passing through his (Quirk's) mind, 
had also been occurring to Gammon, 
who had resolved upon being before- 
hand in putting his purposes into 
execution. Gammon was at first com- 
pletely confounded byQuirk's reception 
of him, and stood for a few moments, 
with his hands elevated, in silence. 
Then he approached the table, and his 
eye caught the well-thumbed volume 
of Burns' Justice, open at the head, 
"_.f@BffiCE3ai!"— and the quick- 
sighted Gammon saw how matters 
stood at a glance — the process by 
which the result he had just witnessed 
had been arrived at. 

' ' Well, Mr. Quirk, what new vagary 
now ? " he enquired, with an air of 
smiling curiosity. 

"Vagary be !" growled old 

Quirk sullenly, without moving in his 
chair. 

Gammon stood for a moment or two 
eyeing him with a keen scrutiny. 
"What!" at length he enquired, 
good-humouredly, "do you then really 
grudge me any share in the little en- 
terprise ? " 

" Eh ? " quickly interrupted Quirk, 
pricking up his ears. "Do you intend, 
to play Mackivcl ! eh ? What must 
you go down alone to Yatton for, Gam- 
mon ? " continued Quirk anxiously. 

' ' Why, simply as a sort of pioneer 
— to reconnoitre the churchyard — eh ? 
I thought it might have been of 
service ; but if — " 

"Gammon, Gammon, your hand! 
I understand," replied Quirk, evidently 
vastly relieved — most cordially shaking 
the cold hand of Gammon. 

" But understand, Mr. Quirk," said 
he in a very peremptory manner, " no 
one upon earth is to know of my visit 
to Yatton except yourself." 

He received a solemn pledge to that 
effect ; and presently the partners 
separated, a little better satisfied with 
eaeh other. Though not a word passed 
between them for several days after- 
wards on the topic chiefly discussed 
P2 



212 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



during the interview above described, 
the reader may easily imagine that 
neither of them dropped it from his 
thoughts. Mr. Quirk paid one or two 
visits to the neighbourhood of Hounds- 
ditch, (a perfect hotbed of clients,) 
where resided two or three gentlemen 
of the Jewish persuasion, who had been 
placed, from time to time, under con- 
siderable obligations by the firm of 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, in respect 
of professional services rendered both 
to themselves and to their friends. 
One of them, in particular, had a pain- 
ful consciousness that it was in old 
Mr. Quirk's power at any time, by a 
whisper, to place his — the aforesaid 
Israelite's — neck in an unsightly noose 
that every now and then might be seen 
dangling from a beam opposite Debtor's 
Door, Newgate, about eight o'clock 
in the morning ; him, therefore, every 
consideration of interest and of grati- 
tude combined to render subservient 
to the reasonable wishes of Mr. Quirk. 
He was a most ingenious little fellow, 
and had a great taste for the imitative 
arts — so strong a taste, in fact, that it 
had once or twice placed him in some 
jeopardy with the Goths and Vandals 
of the law, who characterized the noble 
art in whi-h he excelled by a very 
ugly and formidable word, and annexed 
the most barbarous penalties to its 
practice. "What passed between him 
and old Quirk on the occasion of their 
interviews, I know not ; but one after- 
noon, the latter, on returning to his 
office, without saying anything to any- 
body, having bolted the door, took out 
of his pocket several little pieces of 
paper, containing pretty little pictur- 
esque devices of a fragmentary charac- 
ter, with antique letters and figures on 
them — crumbling pieces of stone, some 
looking more and some less sunk in 
the ground, and overgrown with grass : 
possibly they were designs for orna- 
ments to be added to that tasteful 
structure — Alibi House — possibly in- 
tended to grace Miss Quirk's album. 
However this might be, after he had 
looked at them and carefully compared 
them one with another for some time, 
he folded them up in a sheet of paper, 
sealed it up — with certainly not the 



steadiest hand in the word — and then 
deposited it in an iron safe. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Yatton, the recovery of which wa s 
the object of these secret and formid" 
able movements and preparations, not 
to say machinations, was all this while 
the scene of deep affliction. The 
lamentable condition of his mother 
plunged Mr. Aubrey, his wife and 
sister, into profounder grief than had 
been occasioned by the calamity which 
menaced them all in common. Hid 
he been alone, he would have en- 
countered the sudden storm of ad- 
versity with unshrinking, i:ay cheerful 
firmness ; but could it be so, when he 
had ever before him those whose ruin 
was involved in his own ? — Poor Mrs. 
Aubrey, his wife, having been two or 
three weeks confined to her bed, during 
which time certain fond hopes of the 
husband had been blighted, was almost 
overpowered, when, languid and feeble, 
supported by Mr. Aubrey and Kate, 
she first entered the bed-room of the 
venerable sufferer. AVhat a dilference, 
indeed, was there between the appear- 
ance of all of them at that moment, 
and on the Christmas day when, a 
happy group, they were cheerfully 
enjoying the festivities of the season! 
Kate was now pale, and somewhat 
thinner ; her beautiful features ex- 
hibited a careworn expression ; yet 
there was a serene lustre in her blue 
eye, and a composed resolution in her 
air, which bespoke the superiority of 
her soul. What it had cost her to 
bear with any semblance of self- 
possession, or fortitude, the sad spec- 
tacle jiow presented by her mother ! 
What a tender and vigilant nurse was 
she, to one who could no longer be 
sensible of, or appreciate, her atten- 
tions ! How that sweet girl humoured 
all her mother's little eccentricities 
and occasional excitement, and accom- 
modated herself to every varying 
phasis of her mental malady ! She 
had so schooled her sensibilities and 
feelings as to be able to maintain 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



213 



perfect cheerfulness and composure in 
her mother's presence, on occasions 
which forced her brother, and his 
.shaken wife, to turn aside with an eye 
of agony — overcome by some touching 
speech or wayward action of the un- 
conscious sufferer, who constantly 
imagined herself, poor soul ! to be 
living over again her early married 
life ; and that in her little grand- 
children she beheld Mr. Aubrey and 
Kate as in their childhood ! She 
would gently chide Mr. Aubrey, her 
husband, for his prolonged absence, 
asking many times a day whether he 
had returned from London. Every 
morning old Jacob Jones was shown 
into her chamber, at the hour at which 
he had been accustomed, in happier 
days, to attend upon her. The faith- 
ful old man's eyes would be blinded 
with tears, and his voice choked, as 
he was asked how Peggy got over her 
yesterday's journey ; and listened to 
questions, messages, and directions, 
which had been familiar to him twenty 
years before, about villagers and 
tenants who had long lain mouldering 
in their humble graves — their way 
thither cheered and smoothed by her 
Christian charity and benevolence ! 
'Twas a touching sight to see her two 
beautiful grandchildren, in whose com- 
pany she delighted, brought, with a 
timorous and half-reluctant air, into 
her presence. How strange must have 
seemed to them the gaiety of the 
motionless figure always lying in the 
bed ; a gaiety which, though gentle 
as gentle could be, yet sufficed not to 
assure the little things, or set them 
at their ease. Though her mild 
features ever smiled upon them, and 
her voice was cheerful, still 'twas from 
a prostrate figure that never moved, 
and was always surrounded by calm, 
quiet figures, with sorrowful constraint 
in their countenances and gestures ! 
Charles would stand watching her, 
with apprehensive eye — the finger of 
one hand raised to his lip, while his 
other retained the hand that had 
brought him in, as if fearful of its 
quitting hold of him ; the few words 
he could be brought to speak were in 
a subdued tone and hurried utterance : 



— and when, having been lifted up to 
kiss his grandmamma, he and his sister 
were taken out of (ho chamber, their 
little breasts would heave a sigh which 
showed how relieved they were from 
their recent constraint. 

How woefully changed was every- 
thing in the once cheerful old Hall! 
Mr. Aubrey sitting in the library, 
intently engaged upon books and 
j apers — Mrs. Aubrey and Kate now 
and then, arm in arm, walking slowly 
up and down the galleries, or one of 
the rooms, or the hall, not with their 
former sprightly gaiety, but pensive, 
and often in tears, and then returning 
to the chamber of their suffering parent. 
All this was sad work, indeed, and 
seemed, as it were, to herald in coming 
desolation ! 

But little variation occurred, for 
several weeks, in the condition of Mrs. 
Aubrey, except that she grew visibly 
feebler. One morning, however, about 
six weeks after her seizure, from cer- 
tain symptoms the medical men inti- 
mated their opinion that some im- 
portant change was on the eve of 
taking place, for which they prepared 
the family. She had been very restless 
during the night. After frequent 
intervals of uneasy sleep, she would 
awake with evident surprise and 
bewilderment. Sometimes a peculiar 
smile would flit over her emaciated 
features ; at others, they would be 
overcast with gloom, and she would 
seem struggling to suppress tears. 
Her voice, too, when she spoke, was 
feeble and tremulous ; and she would 
sigh, and shake her head mournfully. 
Old Jacob Jones, not being introduced 
at the accustomed hour, she asked for 
him. When he made his appearance, 
she gazed at him for a moment or two, 
with a puzzled eye, exclaiming "Jacob! 
Jacob ! is it you ? " in a very low tone ; 
and then she closed her eyes, ap- 
parently falling asleep. Thus passed 
the day ; her daughter and daughter- 
in-law sitting on either side the bed, 
where they had so long kept their 
anxious and affectionate vigils — Mr. 
Aubrey sitting at the foot of the bed — 
and Dr. Goddart and Mr. Whateley in 
frequent attendance. Towards the 



214 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



evening, Dr. Tatham also, as had been 
his daily custom through her illness, 
appeared, and in a low tone read over 
the service for the visitation of the 
sick. Shortly afterwards Mr. Aubrey 
was obliged to quit the chamber, in 
order to attend to some very pressing 
matters of business ; and he had been 
engaged for nearly an hour, intending 
almost every moment to return to his 
mother's chamber, when Dr. Tatham 
entered, as Mr. Aubrey was subscrib- 
ing his name to a letter, and, with a 
little earnestness, said — "Come, my 
friend, let us return to your mother ; 
methinks she is on the eve of some 
decisive change : the issue is with 
God." Within a very few moments 
they were both at the bedside of 
Mrs. Aubrey. A large chamber-lamp, 
standing on a table at a little distance 
from the bed, diffused a soft light 
over the room, rendering visible at a 
glance the silent and sad group col- 
lected round the bed, all with their 
eyes directed towards the venerable 
figure who lay upon it. Mr. Aubrey 
sat beside his wife close to his mother ; 
and taking her thin, emaciated hand 
into" his own, gently raised it to his 
lips. She seemed dozing : but his 
action appeared to rouse her for a 
moment. Presently she fixed her eye 
upon him — its expression, the while, 
slowly but perceptibly changing, and 
exciting strange feelings within him. 
He trembled, and removed not his eye 
from hers. He turned very pale — for 
the whole expression of his mother's 
countenance, which was turned full 
towards him, was changing. Through 
the clouded windows of the falling 
fabric, behold ! its long-imprisoned 
tenant, the soul, had arisen from its 
torpor, and was looking at him. Kea- 
son was re-appearing. It was, indeed, 
his mother, and in her right mind, 
that was gazing at him. He scarcely 
breathed. At length surprise and 
apprehension yielded before a gush of 
tenderness and love. With what an 
unutterable look was his mother at 
that moment regarding him ! His lip 
quivered — his eye overflowed — and, as 
he felt her fingers very gently com- 
pressing his own, his tears fell down. 



Gently leaning forward, he kissed her 
cheek, and sank on one kneo beside 
the bed. 

"Is it you, my son?" said she, in 
a very low tone, but in her own voice, 
and it stirred up instantly a thousand 
fond recollections, almost overpowering 
him. He kissed her hand with fervent 
energy, but spoke not. She continued 
gazing at him with mingled solemnity 
and fondness. Her eye seemed bright- 
ening as it remained fixed upon him. 
Again she spoke, in a very low but 
clear voice — every thrilling word being 
heard by every one around her — " Or 
ever the silver cord be loosed, or the 
golden boivl be broken, or the -pitcher be 
broken at the fountain, or the wheel 
broken at the cistern, — Then shall the 
dust return to the earth as it was ; and 
the spirit shall return unto God who 
gave it. " It would be in vain to at- 
tempt to describe the manner in which 
these words were spoken ; and which 
fell upon those who heard them as 
though they were listening to one from 
the dead. 

' ' My mother ! — my mother ! " at 
length faltered Aubrey. 

"God bless thee, my son!" said 
she solemnly. "And Catharine, my 

daughter — God bless thee " she 

presently added, gently turning round 
her head towards the quarter whence a 
stifled sob issued from Miss Aubrey, 
who rose, trembling, and leaning over, 
kissed her mother. "Agnes, are you 
here — and your little ones? — God 

bless " Her voice got fainter, and 

her eyes closed. Mr. Whateley gave 
her a few drops of ether, and she pre- 
sently revived. 

" God hath been very good to you, 
madam," said Dr. Tatham, observing 
her eye fixed upon him, "to restore 
you thus to your children." 

" I have been long absent — long ! — 
I wake, my children, but to bid you 
farewell, for ever, upon earth. " 

"Say not so, my mother — my 
precious mother ! " exclaimed her son, 
in vain endeavouring to suppress his 
emotions. 

"I do, my son! Weep not for me ; 
I am old, and am summoned away 
from among you" — She ceased, as if 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



215 



from exhaustion ; and no one spoke 
for some minutes. 

"It may be that God hath roused 
me, as it were, from the dead, to com- 
fi.rt m) T sorrowful children with words 
of hope," said Mrs. Aubrey, with 
much more power and distinctness 
than before. "Hope ye, then, in 
God ; for ye shall yet praise him who 
is the health of your countenance, and 
your God ! " 

" We will remember, my mother, 
your words ! " faltered her son. 

"Yes, my son — if days of darkness 
be at hand " — She ceased. Again Mr. 
Whateley placed to her white lips a 
glass with some reviving fluid — looking 
ominously at Mr. Aubrey, as he found 
that she continued insensible. Miss 
Aubrey sobbed audibly ; indeed, all 
present were powerfully affected. 
Again Mrs. Aubrey revived, and swal- 
lowed a few drops of wine and water. 
A heavenly serenity diffused itself 
over her emaciated features. 

"We shall meet again, my loves ! — 
I can no longer see you with the eyes 
of" — Mr. Whateley observing a sudden 
change, came nearer to her. 

"Peace! peace!" she murmured 
almost inarticulately. A dead silence 
ensued, interrupted only by smothered 
sobs. Her children sank on their 
knees, and buried their faces in their 
hands, trembling. 

Mr. Whateley made a silent signal to 
Dr. Tatham, that life had ceased — that 
the beloved spirit had passed away. 
' ' The Lord gave, and the Lord hath 
taken away : blessed be the name of 
the Lord ! " said Dr. Tatham, with 
tremulous solemnity. Mrs. Aubrey 
and Miss Aubrey, no longer able to 
restrain their feelings, wept bitterly ; 
and, overpowered with grief, were sup- 
ported out of the room by Dr. Tatham 
and Mr. Aubrey. As soon as it was 
known that the venerable mother of 
Mr. Aubrey was no more, universal 
reverence was testified for her memory, 
and sympathy for the afflicted sur- 
vivors, by even those, high and low, 
in the remoter parts of the neighbour- 
hood who had no personal acquaint- 
ance with the family. Two or three 
davs afterwards, the undertaker, who 



had received orders from Mr. Aubrey 
to provide a simple and unexpensive 
funeral, submitted to him a list of 
more than thirty names of the nobility 
and gentry of the country, who had 
sent to him to know whether it would 
be agreeable to the family for them to 
be allowed to attend Mrs. Aubrey's 
remains to the grave. After much 
consideration, Mr. Aubrey accepted of 
this spontaneous tribute of respect to 
the memory of his mother. 'Twas a 
memorable and melancholy day on 
which the interment took place — one 
never to be forgotten at Yatton. What 
can be more chilling than the gloomy 
bustle of a great funeral, especially in 
the country ; and when the deceased 
is one whose memory is enshrined in 
the holiest feelings of all who knew 
her ? What person was there, for 
miles around, who could not speak of 
the courtesies, the charities, the good- 
ness of Madam Aubrey ? 

When the ear heard her, then it 
blessed her ; and when the eye saw her, 
it gave witness to her : 

Because she delivered the poor that 
cried, and the fatherless, and him that 
had none to help him. 

The blessing of him that was ready 
to perish came upon her, and she caused 
the widoiv's heart to sing for joy. 

She was eyes to the blind, and feet 
was she to the lame. 

She was a mother to the poor. 

Pale as death, the chief mourner, 
wrapped in his black cloak, is step- 
ping into the mourning-coach. No 
one speaks to him : his face is buried 
in his handkerchief; his heart seems 
breaking. He thinks of her whose 
dear dust is before him ; — then of the 
beloved beings whom he has left alone 
in their agony till his return — his wife 
and sister. The procession is moving 
slowly on — long, silent rows of the 
tenantry and villagers, old and young, 
male and female — not a dry eye among 
them, nor a syllable spoken — stand on 
each side of the way ; no sound heard 
but of horses' feet, and wheels crush- 
ing along the wet gravel — for the day 
is most gloomy and inclement. As 
they quit the gates, carriage after 
carriage follows in the rear ; and the 



216 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



sorrowful crowd increases around them. 
Many have in their hands the bibles 
and prayer-books which had been given 
them by her who now lies in yonder 
hearse ; and a few can recollect the 
day when the late lord of Yatton led 
her along from the church to the Hall, 
his young and blooming bride — in 
pride and joy — and they are now going 
to lay her beside him again. They 
enter the little churchyard, and are 
met by good Dr. Tatham, in his sur- 
plice, bareheaded, and with book in 
hand ; with full eye and quivering lip 
he slowly precedes the body into 
the church. His voice frequently 
trembles, and sometimes he pauses 
while reading the service. Now they 
are standing bareheaded at the vault's 
mouth — the last sad rites are being 
performed ; and probably, as is think- 
ing the chief mourner, over the last of 
his race who will rest in that tomb ! 

Long after the solemn ceremony was 
over, the little churchyard remained 
filled with mournful groups of villagers 
and tenants, who pressed forward to 
the dark mouth of the vault, to take 
their last look at the coffin which 
contained the remains of her whose 
memory would live long in all their 
hearts. "Ah, dear old madam," 
quoth Jonas Higgs to himself, as he 
finished his dreary day's labours, by 
temporarily closing up the mouth of 
the vault, ' ' they might have turned 
thee, by-and-by, out of yonder Hall, 
but they shall not touch thee here ! " 

Thus died, and was buried, Madam 
Aubrey ; and she is not yet forgotten. 

How desolate seemed the Hall, the 
next morning, to the bereaved inmates, 
as, dressed in deep mourning, they 
met at the cheerless breakfast table ! 
Aubrey kissed his wife and sister — 
who could hardly answer his brief 
enquiries. The gloom occasioned 
throughout the Hall, for the last ten 
days, by the blinds being constantly 
drawn down, now that they were 
drawn up, had given way to a staring 
light and distinctness, that almost 
startled and offended the eyes of those 
whose hearts were dark with sorrow 
as ever. Every object reminded them 
of the absence of one — whose chair 



stood empty in its accustomed place. 
There, also, was her Bible, on the 
little round table near ths window. 
The mourners seemed relieved by the 
entrance, by-and-by, of the children : 
but they also were in mourning ! Let 
us, however, withdraw from this scene 
of suffering, where every object, every 
recollection, every association, causes 
the wounded heart to bleed afresh. 

Great troubles seem coming upon 
them ; and now that they have Tmried 
their dead out of their sight, and when 
time shall begin to pour his balm into 
their present smarting wounds, 1 doubt 
not that they will look those troubles 
in the face, calmly and with fortitude, 
not forgetful of the last words of her 
for whom they now mourn so bitterly, 
and whom, beloved and venerable 
being ! God hath mercifully taken 
away from evil days that are to come. 

After much and anxious considera- 
tion, they resolved to go, on the en- 
suing Sunday morning, to church, 
where neither Mrs. Aubrey nor Kate 
had been since the illness of her 
mother. The little church was crowd- 
ed ; almost every one present, besides 
wearing a saddened countenance, ex- 
hibited some outward mark of respect, 
in their dress — some badge of mourn- 
ing — such as their little means admit- 
ted of. The pulpit and reading-desk 
were hung in black, as also was Mr. 
Aubrey's pew — an object of deep in- 
terest to the congregation, who ex- 
pected to see at least some member of 
the family at the Hall. They were 
not disappointed. A little before Dr. 
Tatham took his place in the reading- 
desk, the well-known sound of the 
family carriage-wheels was heard, as 
it drew up before the gate : and pre- 
sently, Mr. Aubrey appeared at the 
church door, with his wife and sister 
on either arm ; all of them, of course, 
in the deepest mourning— Mrs. and 
Miss Aubrey's countenances concealed 
beneath their long crape veils. For 
some time after taking their seatSj 
they seemed oppressed with emotion, 
evidently weeping. Mr. Aubrey, how- 
ever, exhibited great composure, though 
his countenance bore the traces of the 
suffering he had undergone. Mrs. Au- 



TEX THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



217 



brey seldom rose from her seat ; but 
Kate stood up, from time to time, 
with the rest of the congregation ; 
her white handkerchief, however, 
might be seen frequently raised to 
her eyes, beneath her black veil. As 
the service went on, she seemed to 
have struggled with some success 
against her feelings. To relieve her- 
self for a moment from its oppressive 
closeness, she gently drew aside her 
veil ; and thus, for a few minutes, 
exhibited a countenance inexpressibly 
beautiful. She could not, however, 
long bear to face a congregation, every 
one of whom she felt to be looking on 
her, and those beside her, with affec- 
tionate sympathy ; and rather quickly 
drew her veil again over her face, 
without again removing it. There 
was one person present, on whom the 
brief glimpse of her beauty had pro- 
duced a prodigious impression. As 
he gazed at her, the colour gradually 
deserted his cheek ; and his eye re- 
mained fixed upon her, even after she 
had drawn down her veil. He experi- 
enced emotions such as he had never 
known before. Ho that was Miss 
Aubrey ! 

Mr. Gammon — for he it was, and 
he had gone thither under the ex- 
pectation of seeing, for the first time, 
some of the Aubrey family — generally 
passed for a cold-blooded person ; and 
in fact few men living had more con- 
trol over their feelings, or more sys- 
tematically checked any manifestations 
of them ; but there was something in 
the person and circumstances of Miss 
Aubrey — for by a hurried enquiry of 
the person next to him he learned that 
it was she — which excited new feelings 
in him. Her slightest motion his eye 
watched with intense eagerness ; and 
faint half-formed schemes, purposes, 
and hopes, passed in rapid confusion 
through his mind, as he foresaw that 
circumstances would hereafter arise by 
means of which — 

"Good heavens! how very — very 
beautiful she is ! " siid he to himself, 
as, the service over, her graceful figure, 
following her brother and his wife with 
slow sad step, approached the pew in 
which he was standing, on her way to 



the door. He felt a sort of cold shud- 
der, as her black dress rustled past, 
actually touching him. "What was he 
doing and meditating against that 
lovely being ? And for whom — dis- 
gusting reptile ! — for Titmouse ? He 
almost blushed with a conflict of emo- 
tions, as he followed almost immedi- 
ately after Miss Aubrey, never losing 
sight of her till her brother, having 
handed her into the carriage, got in 
after her, and they drove off towards 
the Hall. 

The reader will not be at a loss to 
account for the presence of Gammon 
on this occasion, nor to connect it with 
a great trial at the approaching York 
assizes. As he walked back to Gril- 
ston to his solitary dinner, he was lost 
in thought ; and on arriving at the 
inn, repaired at once to his room, 
where he found a copy of the Sunday 
Flash, which had, according to orders, 
been sent to him from town, under 
his assumed name, "Gibson." He 
ate but little, and that mechanically; 
and seemed to feel, for once, little or 
no interest in his newspaper. He had 
never paid the least attention to the 
eulogia upon Miss Aubrey of the little 
idiot Titmouse, nor of Snap, of whom 
he entertained but a very little higher 
opinion than of Titmouse. One thing 
was clear, that from that moment Miss 
Aubrey formed a new element in Mr. 
Gammon's calculations ; and for aught 
I know, may occasion very different 
results from those originally contem- 
plated by that calm and crafty person. 

As it proved a moonlight night, he 
resolved at once to set about the im- 
portant business which had brought 
him into Yorkshire ; and for that pur- 
pose set off about eight o'clock on his 
walk to Yatton. About ten o'clock 
he might have been seen gliding into 
the churchyard, like a dangerous 
snake. The moon continued to shine 
— and at intervals with brightness 
sufficient for his p 'rposc, which was 
simply to reconnoitre, as closely as 
possible, the little churchyard — to as- 
certain what it might contain, and 
what were its cnpahilities. At length 
he approached the old yew-tree, against 
whose huge trunk he leaned with folded 



218 



TEN" THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



arms, apparently in a reverie. Sear- 
ing a noise as of some one opening the 
gate by which, he had entered, he 
glided further into the gloom behind 
him ; and turning his head in the 
direction whence the sound came, he 
beheld some one entering the church- 
yard. His heart beat quickly ; and 
he suspected that he had been watched : 
yet there was surely no harm in being 
seen, at ten o'clock at night, looking 
about him in a country churchyard. 
It was a gentleman who entered, 
dressed in deep mourning ; and Gam- 
mon quickly recognised in him Mr. 
Aubrey — the brother of her whose 
beautiful image still shone before his 
mind's eye. What could he be want- 
ing there ? — at that time of night ? 
Gammon was not kept long in doubt ; 
for the stranger slowly bent his steps 
towards a large high tomb, in fact the 
central object, next to the yew-tree, 
in the churchyard — and stood gazing 
at it in silence for some time. 

"That is, no doubt, where Mrs. 
Aubrey was buried the other day," 
thought he, watching the movements 
of the stranger, who presently raised 
his handkerchief to his eyes, and for 
some moments seemed indulging in 
great grief. Gammon distinctly heard 
either a sob or a sigh. "He must 
have been very fond of her," thought 
Gammon. " Well, if we succeed, the 
excellent old lady will have escaped a 
great deal of trouble — • that's all." 
"If we succeed!" That reminded 
him of what he had for a few moments 
lost sight of," namely, his own object 
in coming thither ; and he felt a sud- 
den chill of remorse, which increased 
upon him till he almost trembled, as 
his eye continued fixed on Mr. Aubrey, 
and he thought also of Miss Aubrey — 
and the misery — the utter ruin into 
which he was seeking to plunge them 
both — the unhallowed means which 
they — which he — contemplated resort- 
ing to for that purpose. 

Gammon's condition was becoming 
every moment more serious ; for 
virtue, in the shape of Miss Aubrey, 
began to shine every moment in more 
radiant loveliness before him — and he 
almost felt an inclination to sacrifice 



every person connected with the enter- 
prise in which he was engaged, if it 
would give him a chance of winning 
the favour of Miss Aubrey, Presently, 
however, Mr. Aubrey, evidently heav- 
ing a deep sigh, bent his steps slowly 
back again, and quitted the church- 
yard. Gammon watched his figure 
out of sight, and then, for the first 
time since Mr. Aubrey's appearance, 
breathed freely. Relieved from the 
pressure of his presence, Gammon be- 
gan to take calmer and juster views 
of his position ; and he reflected, 
that if he pushed on the present affair 
to a successful issue, he should be 
much more likely, than by prematurely 
ending it, to gain his objects. He there- 
fore resumed his survey of the scene 
around him : and which presented 
appearances highly satisfactory, judg- 
ing from the expression which now 
and then animated his countenance. 
At length he wandered round to the 
other end of the church, where a 
crumbling wall, half-covered with ivy, 
indicated that there had formerly stood 
some building apparently of earlier 
date than the church. Such was the 
fact. Gammon soon found himself 
standing in a sort of inclosure, which 
had once been the site of an old 
chapel. And here he had not been 
long making his observations, before 
he achieved a discovery of so extra- 
ordinary a nature ; one so unlikely, 
under the circumstances, to have hap- 
pened ; one so calculated to baffle 
ordinary calculations concerning the 
course of events, that the reader 
may well disbelieve what I am going 
to tell him, and treat it as ab- 
surdly improbable. In short, not 
to keep him in suspense, Gammon 
positively discovered evidence of the 
death of Harry Dreddlington in his 
father's lifetime ; by means of just 
such a looking tombstone as he had 
long imaged to himself; and as he 
had resolved that old Quirk r should 
have got prepared, before the cause 
came into court. He almost stumbled 
over it. 'Twas an old slanting stone, 
scarce two feet above the ground, 
partly covered with moss, and partly 
hid by rubbish and old damp grass. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



219 



The moon shone brightly enough to 
enable Gammon, kneeling down, to 
decipher, beyond all doubt, what was 
requisite to establish that part of the 
ease which had been wanting. For a 
moment or two he was disposed to 
doubt whether lie was not dreaming. 
When, at length, he took out pencil 
and paper, his hands trembled so much 
that lie felt some difficulty in making 
an exact copy of the inestimable in- 
scription. Having done this, he drew 
a long breath as he replaced the pencil 
and paper in his pocket-book, and 
almost fancied he heard a whispering 
sound in the air — "Verdict for the 
plaintiff." Quitting the churchyard, 
he walked back to Grilston at a much 
quicker rate than that at which he 
had come, his discovery having won- 
derfully elated him, and pushed all 
other thoughts entirely out of his 
mind. But, thought he, doubtless 
the other side are aware of the exist- 
ence of this tombstone — they can 
hardly be supposed ignorant of it ; 
they must have looked tip their evi- 
dence as well as we — and their atten- 
tion has been challenged to the 
existence or non-existence of proof of 
the time of the death of Harry Dred- 
dlington : — well — if they are aware of 
it, they know that it cuts the ground 
from under them, and turns their 
conveyance, on which, doubtless, they 
are relying, into waste paper ; if they 
are not, and are under the impression 
that that deed is valid and effectual, our 
proof will fall on them like a thunder- 
bolt. "Gad," — he held his breath, 
and stopped in the middle of the road 
— "how immensely important is this 
little piece of evidence ! Why, if they 
knew of it — why in Heaven's name is 
it there still ? What easier than to 
have got rid of it ? — why, they may 
still : what can that stupid fellow 
Parkinson have been about ? Yet, is 
it because it has become unimportant, 
on account of their being in posses- 
sion of other evidence ? What can 
they have to set against so plain a 
case as ours is, with this evidence ? 
G.id, I'll not lose one day's time ; but 
.I'll h ive half-a-dozen competent wit- 
nesses to inspect, and speak to that 



same tombstone in court." Such were 
some of the thoughts which passed 
through his mind as he hastened 
homeward ; and on his arrival, late as 
it was — only the yawning ostler being 
up to lot him in — he sat down to write 
a letter off to Mr. Quirk, and made it 
into a parcel to go by the mail in the 
morning, acquainting him with the 
truly providential discovery he had 
just made, and urging him to set 
about getting up the briefs, for the 
trial, without delay ; he, himself, pur- 
posing to stop at Grilston a day or two 
longer, to complete one or two other 
arrangements of an important nature. 
As soon as Mr. Quirk had read this 
letter, he devoutly thanked God for 
His goodness ; and, hurrying to his 
strong-box, unlocked it, took out a 
small sealed packet, and committed it 
to the flames. 

Mr. Aubrey, as soon as he had re- 
covered from the first shock occasioned 
by the communication by Mr. Parkin- 
son of the proceedings against him, set 
about acquainting himself, as minutely 
as he could, with the true state of the 
case. He had requested Mr. Parkin- 
son to obtain from one of the counsel 
in London, Mr. Crystal, a full account 
of the case, in an elementary form, for 
his own guidance ; and on obtaining a 
remarkably clear and luminous state- 
ment, and also consulting the various 
authorities cited in it — such, at least, 
as could be supplied to him by Mr. 
Parkinson — the vigorous practical 
understanding of Mr. Aubrey, aided 
by his patient application, soon mas- 
tered the whole case, and enabled him 
to appreciate the peril in which he was 
placed. Since he could derive no 
title through the conveyance of Harry 
Dreddlington (which had been got in 
by Geoffry Dreddlington,) owing to 
the death of the former in his father's 
lifetime, as he (Mr. Aubrey) under- 
stood from his advisers could be easily 
proved by the present claimant of the 
property ; the right of accession of 
Geoffry Dreddlington's descendants 
depended entirely upon the fact 
whether or not Stephen Dreddlington 
had really died without issue ; and as 
to that, certain anxious and extensive 



220 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAK, 



enquiries instituted by Messrs. Run- 
nington and Mr. Parkinson, in pur- 
suance of the suggestions of their able 
and experienced counsel, had led them 
to entertain serious doubts concerning 
the right of Geoffry's descendants to 
have entered into possession. .By 
what means his opponents had obtained 
their clue to the state of his title, 
neither he nor any of his advisers 
could frame a plausible conjecture. 
It was certainly possible that Stephen 
Dreddlington, who was known to have 
been a man, like his uncle Harry, of 
wild and eccentric habits, and to 
have been supposed to leave no issue, 
might have married privately some 
woman of inferior station, and left 
issue by her, who, living in obscurity, 
and at a distance from the seat of the 
family property, could have no oppor- 
tunity of enquiring into or ascertaining 
their position with reference to the 
estates, till some acute and enterprising 
attorneys, like Messrs. Quirk, Gam- 
mon, and Snap, happening to get 
hold of them, and family papers in 
their possession, had taken up their 
case. When with impressions such as 
these, Mr. Aubrey perused and re- 
perused the opinions of the convey- 
ancer given on the occasion of his 
(Mr. Aubrey's) marriage, he was con- 
founded at the supineness and indiffer- 
ence which he had even twice exhi- 
bited, and felt disposed now greatly to 
overvalue the importance of every 
adverse circumstance. The boldness, 
again, and systematic energy with 
which the case of the claimant was 
prosecuted, and the eminent legal 
opinions which were alleged, and with 
every appearance of truth, to concur 
in his favour, afforded additional 
grounds for rational apprehension. 
He looked the danger, however, full 
in the face, and as far as lay in his 
power, prepared for the evil day which 
might so soon come upon him. Certain 
extensive and somewhat costly alter- 
ations which he had been on the point 
of commencing at Yatton, he aban- 
doned. But for the earnest interference 
of friends, he would at once have given 
up his establishment in Grosvenor 
Street, and applied for the Chiltern 



Hundreds, in order to retire from 
political life. Considering the possi- 
bility of his soon being declared the 
wrongful holder of the property, he 
contracted his expenditure as far as 
he could, without challenging un- 
necessary public attention ; and paid 
into his banker's hands all his Christ- 
mas rents, sacredly resolving to abstain 
from drawing out one farthing of what 
might soon be proved to belong to 
another. At every point occurred the 
dreadful question — if I am declared 
never to have been the rightful owner 
of the property, how am 1 to discharge 
my frightful liabilities to him who is ? 
Mr. Aubrey had nothing except the 
Yatton property. He had but an 
insignificant sum in the funds ; Mrs. 
Aubrey's settlement was out of lands 
at Yatton, as also was the little income 
bequeathed to Kate by her father. 
Could anything, now, be conceived 
more dreadful, under these circum- 
stances, than the mere danger — the 
slightest probability — of their being 
deprived of Yatton ? — and with a debt 
of at the very least sixty thousand 
pounds, due to him who had been 
wrongfully kept out of his property ? 
That was the millstone which seemed 
to drag them all to the bottom. 
Against that, what could the kindness 
of the most generous friends, what 
could his own most desperate exertions, 
avail ? All this had poor Aubrey 
constantly before his eyes, together 
with — his wife, his sister, his children. 
What was to become of them ? It 
was long before the real nature and 
extent of his danger became known 
amongst his friends and neighbours. 
When, however, th ey were made aware 
of it, an extraordinary interest and 
sympathy were excited throughout 
almost the whole county. Whenever 
his attorney, Mr. Parkinson, appeared 
in public, he was besieged by most 
anxious enquiries concerning his dis- 
tinguished client, whose manly mo- 
desty and fortitude, under the pressure 
of his sudden and almost unprece- 
dented difficulty and peril, endeared 
him more than ever to all who had an 
opportunity of appreciating his posi- 
tion. With what intense and absorbing 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



221 



interest were the ensuing assizes looked 
for ! At length they arrived. 

The ancient city of York exhibited, 
on the commission day of the Spring 
Assizes for the year IS — , the usual 
scene of animation and excitement. 
The High Sheriff, attended by an im- 
posing retinue, went out to meet the 
Judges, and escorted them, amidst the 
shrill clangour of trumpets, to the 
Castle, where the commission was 
opened with the usual formalities. 
The Judges were Lord Widdrington, 
the Lord Chief-Justice of the King's 
Bench, and Mr. Justice Grayley, a 
puisne judge of the same court — both 
admirable lawyers. The former was 
possessed of the more powerful intel- 
lect. He was, what may be called a 
great scientific lawyer, referring every- 
thing to principle as extracted from 
precedent. Mr. Justice Grayley was 
almost unrivalled in his knowledge of 
the details of the law ; his governing 
maxim being ita lex scripta. Here 
his knowledge was equally minute and 
accurate, and most readily applied to 
every case brought before him. Never 
sat there upon the bench a more pains- 
taking judge — one more anxious to do 
right equally in great things as in 
small. Both were men of rigid in- 
tegrity : 'tis a glorious thing to be 
able to add — when, for centuries, have 
other than men of rigid integrity sat 
upon the English Bench ? Lord Wid- 
drington, however, in temper was 
stern, arbitrary, and overbearing, and 
his manners were disfigured not a 
little by coarseness ; while his com- 
panion was a man of exemplary ami- 
ability, affability, and forbearance. 
Lord Widdrington presided at the 
Civil Court, (where, of course, would 
come on the important cause in which 
we are interested,) and Mr. Justice 
Grayley in the Criminal Court. 

Soon after the sitting of the court, 
on the ensuing morning — "Will your 
Lordship allow me," rose and enquired 
the sleek, smiling, and portly Mr. 
Subtle, dead silence prevailing as soon 
as he had mentioned the name of the 
cause about which he was enquiring, 
"to call your attention to a cause of 
Doe on the demise of Titmouse v. Jolter, 



— a special jury cause, in which there 
are a great many witnesses to be ex- 
amined on both sides — and. to ask that 
a day may be fixed for it to come 
on ? ' ; 

" Whom do you appear for, Mr. 
Subtle ? " enquired his Lordship. 

"For the plaintiff, my Lord.'' 

"And who appears for the defend- 
ant ? " 

' ' The Attorney-General leads for 
the defendant, my Lord," replied 
Mr. Sterling, who, with Mr. Crystal, 
was also retained for the defendant. 

" Well, perhaps you can agree be- 
tween yourselves upon a day, and in 
the mean time similar arrangements 
may be made for any other special 
jury causes that may require it." 
After due consultation, Monday week 
was agreed upon by the parties, and 
fixed by his lordship, for the trial of 
the cause. During the Sunday pre- 
ceding it, York was crowded with 
persons of the highest distinction 
from all parts of the county, who felt 
interested in the result of the great 
cause of the assizes. About mid-day 
a dusty travelling carriage-and-four 
dashed into the streets from the 
London road, and drove up to the 
principal inn ; it contained the At- 
torney-General (who just finished 
reading his brief as he entered York) 
and his clerk. The Attorney-General 
was a man of striking and highly intel- 
lectual countenance ; but he looked, 
on alighting, somewhat fatigued with 
his long journey. He was a man 
of extraordinary natural talents, and 
also a first-rate lawyer — one whose 
right to take the woolsack, when- 
ever it should become vacant, was 
recognized by all the profession. His 
professional celebrity, and his coming 
down special on the present occa- 
sion, added to the circumstance of 
his being well-known to be a per- 
sonal friend of his client, Mr. Aubrey 
— whence it might be inferred that 
his great powers would be exerted to 
their utmost — was well calculated to 
enhance the interest, if that were 
possible, of the occasion which had 
Drought him down at so great an 
expense, and to sustain so heavy a 



%%% 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



responsibility as the conduct of a 
cause of such magnitude. 

He came to lead against a formidable 
opponent. Mr. Subtle was the leader 
of the Northern circuit, a man of 
matchless tact and practical sagacity, 
and most consummately skilful in the 
conduct of a cause. The only thing 
he ever looked at was the verdict, to 
the gaining of which he directed all 
his energies, and sacrificed every other 
consideration. As for display, he 
despised it. A speech, as such, was 
his aversion. He entered into a 
friendly, but exquisitely crafty con- 
versation with the jury ; for he was so 
quick at perceiving the effect of his 
address on the mind of each of the 
twelve, and dexterous in accommo- 
dating himself to what he detected to 
be the passing mood of each, that they 
felt as if they were all the while 
reasoning with, and being convinced 
by him. His placid, smiling, hand- 
some countenance, his gentlemanly 
bearing and insinuating address, full 
of good-natured cheerful confidence 
in his cause, were irresistible. He 
flattered, he soothed, he fascinated the 
jury, producing an impression upon 
their minds which they often felt 
indignant at his opponent attempting 
to efface. In fact, as a nisi prius 
leader he was unrivalled, as well in 
stating as in arguing a case, as well in 
examining as cross-examining a wit- 
ness. It required no little practical 
skill to form an adequate estimate of 
Mr. Subtle's skill in the management 
of a cause ; for he did everything with 
such a smiling, careless, unconcerned 
air, in the great pinch and strain of a 
case, equally as in the pettiest details, 
that you would be apt to suspect that 
none but the easiest and most straight- 
forward cases fell to his lot. 

Titmouse, Titmouse, methinks the 
fates favoured you in assigning to you 
Mr.' Subtle ! 

Next came Mr. Quicksilver, a 
man of great but wild energy, who 
received what may be called a muffling 
retainer. "What a contrast was he to 
Mr. Subtle ! The first and the last 
thing he thought of in a cause, was — 
himself. His delight was to make the 



jury feel as if a whirlwind were raging 
about them, and he the spirit who 
had raised it. His object was either 
to dazzle or overpower them. He 
wrapped himself round in the gleaming 
garment of display ; the gaudy patch- 
work of multifarious superficial ac- 
quirements. This was the strange, 
noisy object, flinging about wildly, 
in all directions, the firebrands and 
arrows of sarcasm and invective, which 
occupied their eye and ear till he had 
ceased ; neither he nor they were 
thinking all the while of his dismayed 
and injured client, till reminded of 
him by the adverse charge qf the 
judge, accompanied by a slight sneer 
and shrug of the shoulders from Mr. 
Subtle. Why, then, was such a man 
retained in the cause ? 'Twas a fancy 
of Quirk's, a vast political admirer of 
Quicksilver's, who had made one or 
two most splendid speeches for him in 
libel cases brought against the Sunday 
Flasli. Gammon most earnestly ex- 
postulated, but Quirk was inexorable ; 
and himself carried his retainer to 
Mr. Quicksilver. Gammon, however, 
was somewhat consoled by the re- 
flection, that this wild elephant would 
be, in a manner, held in check by 
Mr. Subtle and Mr. Lynx, who, he 
hoped, would prevent any serious 
mischief from happening. Lynx pos- 
sessed the qualities which his name 
would suggest to you. I have partly 
described him already. He was a man 
of minute accuracy; and "got up" 
every case in which he was engaged as 
if his life had depended on the result. 
Nothing escaped him. He kept his 
mind constantly even with the current 
of the cause. He was a man to steer a 
leader, if ever that leader should get, 
for an instant, on the wrong tack, or 
be uncertain as to his course. His 
suggestion and interference — rare, in- 
deed, with such a man as Mr. Subtle, 
incessant with Mr. Quicksilver — were 
always worth attending to, and con- 
sequently received with deference. 

For Mr. Aubrey also was retained a 
formidable bar. Mr. Attorney-General 
was a man much superior, in point of 
intellect and legal knowledge, to Mr. 
Subtle. His mind was distinguished 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAli. 



I'V its tranquil power. He had a rare 
ami invaluable faculty of arraying 
before his mind's eye all the facts and 
bearings of the most intricate case, 
and contemplating them, as it were, 
not successively, but simultaneously. 
His perception was quick as light ; 
and, at the same time — rare, most rare 
accompaniment ! — his judgment sound, 
his memory signally retentive. In- 
ferior, possibly, to Mr. Subtle in rapid 
and delicate appreciation of momentary 
advantages, he was sagacious where 
Mr. Subtle was only ingenious. Mr. 
Attorney-General had as much weight 
with the judge as Mr. Subtle with the 
jury. With the former, there was a 
candour and straightforwardness — a 
dignified simplicity — which insensibly 
won the confidence of the judge ; who, 
on the other hand, felt himself obliged 
to be ever on his guard against the 
slippery sophistries of Mr. Subtle, 
whom he thus got to regard with 
constant suspicion. 

Mr. Steeling, the second counsel 
for the defendant, was a king's counsel, 
and a rival of Mr. Subtle upon the 
circuit. He was a man of great power ; 
and, on important occasions, no man 
at the bar could acquit himself with 
more distinction. As a speaker, he 
was eloquent and impressive, perhaps 
deficient in vivacity ; but he was a 
man of clear and powerful intellect ; 
prompt in seizing the bearings of a 
case ; a capital lawyer ; and possessing, 
even on the most trying occasions, 
imperturbable self-possession. 

Mr. Crystal, with some faults of 
manner and bearing, was an honour- 
able high-minded man ; clear-sighted 
and strong-headed ; an accurate and 
ready lawyer ; vigilant and acute. 

See, then, the combatants in this 
memorable encounter : for Titmouse — 
Mr. Subtle, Mr. Quicksilvee, Mr. 
Lynx ; for Mr. Aubrey — Mr. At- 
torney-General, Mr. Sterling, Mr. 
Crystal. 

The consultation of each party was 
long and anxious. 

About eight o'clock on the Sunday 
evening, at Mr. Subtle's lodgings, 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, 
accompanied by Mr. Mortmain, whom 



they had brought down to watch the 
ca.se, made their appearance shortly 
after Mr. Quicksilver and Mr. Lynx. 

" Our case seems complete, now," 
said Mr. Subtle, easting a penetrating 
and most significant glance at Messrs, 
Quirk and Gammon, and then at his 
juniors, to whom, before the arrival of 
their clients and Mr. Mortmain, he 
had been mentioning the essential link 
which, a month before, he had pointed 
out as missing, and the marvellous 
good-fortune by which they had been 
able to supply it at the eleventh hour. 

" That tombstone's a godsend, 
Subtle, isn't it ? " said Quicksilver with 
a grim smile. Lynx neither smiled nor 
sj>oke. He was a very matter-of-fact 
person. So as the case came out clear 
and nice in court, he cared about 
nothing more. But whatever might 
be the insinuation or suspicion implied 
in the observation of Mr. Subtle, the 
reader must, by this time, be well 
aware how little it was warranted by 
the facts. 

" I shall open it very quietly," said 
Mr. Subtle, putting into his pocket 
his penknife, with which he had been 
paring his nails, while Mr. Quicksilver 
had been talking very fast. ' ' What 
do you think, Mr. Lynx ? Had I 
better allude boldly to the conveyance 
executed by Harry Dreddlington, and 
which becomes useless as soon as we 
prove his death in his father's life- 
time." 

' ' Ah ! there's that blessed tomb- 
stone again," interposed Quicksilver. 

— " Or," resumed Mr. Subtle, "con- 
tent myself with barely making out 
our pedigree, and let it come from the 
other side ?" 

' ' I think, perhaps, that the latter 
would be the quieter and safer course," 
replied Lynx. 

" By the way, gentlemen," said Mr. 
Subtle suddenly, addressing Messrs. 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, "how do 
wr. come to know anything about the 
mortgage executed by Harry Dred- 
dlington ! " 

" Oh [ that, you know," replied 
Quirk quickly, " we first got scent of 
in Mr. ■" Here he paused sud- 
denly, and turned quite red. 



ii24 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



"It was suggested," said Gammon 
calmly, "by one of the gentlemen 
whose opinions we have taken in the 
case — I forget by whom— that, from 
some recital, it was probable that 
there existed such an instrument ; and 
that put us on making enquiry." 

" Nothing more likely," added 
Mortmain, "than that it, or an ab- 
stract, or minute of it, should get into 
Stephen Dreddlington's hands." 

" Ah ! well ! well ! — I must say 
there's rather an air of mystery about 
the case. But — about that tomb- 
stone — what sort of witnesses will 
speak " 

"Will that evidence be requisite," 
enquired Lynx, "in the plaintiff's 
case ? All we shall have to do, will 
be to prove the fact that Harry died 
without issue, of which there's satis- 
factory evidence ; and as to the time 
of his death, that will become material 
only if they put in the conveyance of 
Harry." 

"True — true; ah! I'll turn that 
over in my mind. Eely upon it, I'll 
give Mr. Attorney-General as little to 
lay hold of as possible. Thank you, 
Mr. Lynx, for the hint. Now, gen- 
tlemen, one other question — What 
kind of looking people are the wit- 
nesses who prove the later steps of 
the pedigree of Mr. Titmouse 1 Re- 
spectable ? eh ? — You know a good 
deal will depend on the credit they 
may obtain with the jury." 

"They're very decent creditable 
persons, you will find, sir," said Gam- 
mon. 

"Good, good. Who struck the 
special jury ?" 

" We did, sir." 

" Well, I must say that was a very 
prudent step for you to take ! con- 
sidering the rank in life and circum- 
stances of the respective parties ! 
However, to be sure, if you didn't, 
they would — so — well ; good-night, 
gentlemen, good-night." So the con- 
sultation broke up ; and Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap returned home to 
their inn, in a very serious and anxious 
mood. 

" You're a marvellous prudent per- 
son, Mr. Quirk," said Gammon, in a 



somewhat fierce whisper, as they 
walked along, "I suppose you would 
have gone on to explain the little 
matter of Steggars, and so have had 
our briefs thrown at our heads " 

"Well, well, that ivas a slip." 
Here they reached their inn. Tit- 
mouse was staying there ; and in 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap's 
absence, he had got very drunk, and 
was quarrelling under the archway 
with Boots ; so they ordered him to 
bed, they themselves sitting up till a 
very late hour in the morning. 

The consultation at the Attorney- 
General's had taken place about three 
o'clock in the afternoon, within an 
hour after his arrival ; and had been 
attended by Messrs. Sterling, Crystal, 
and Mansfield, — by Mr. Runnington, 
and Mr. Parkinson, and by Mr. Aubrey, 
whom the Attorney-General received 
with the most earnest expressions of 
sympathy and friendship ; listening 
to every question and every observation 
of his with the utmost deference. 

' ' It would be both idle and unkind 
to disguise from you, Aubrey," said 
he, ' ' that our position is somewhat 
precarious. It depends entirely on the 
chance we may have of breaking down 
the plaintiff's case ; for we have but a 
slender case of our own. I suppose 
they can bring proof of the death of 
Harry Dreddlington in his father's 
lifetime ? " 

"Oh yes, sir!" answered Mr. 
Parkinson, " there is an old tomb- 
stone behind Yatton church which 
establishes that fact beyond all doubt ; 
and a week or two ago no fewer than 
five or six persons have been carefully 
inspecting it ; doubtless they will be 
called as witnesses to-morrow." 

"I feared as much. Then are ours 
no more than watching briefs. De- 
pend upon it, they would not have 
carried on the affair with so high a 
hand, if they had not pretty firm 
ground under foot ! Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap are tolerably well 
known in town — not orer-scrupulous, 
eh, Mr. Runnington?" 

"Indeed, Mr. Attorney, you are 
right. I don't doubt they are pre- 
pared to go all lengths." 



TEN" THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



""Well, we'll sift their evidence 
pretty closely, at any rate. So you 
re .illy have reason to fear, as you 
intimated when you entered the room, 
that they have valid evidence , of 
Stephen Dreddlington having left 
issue ? " 

"Mr. Snap told me," said Mr. 
Parkinson, "this morning, that they 
would prove issue of Stephen Dredd- 
lington, and issue of that issue, as clean 
as a whistle — that was his phrase." 

"We mustn't take all for gospel 
that he would say." 

"They've got two houses filled with 
witnesses, I understand," said Mr. 
Kunnington. 

"Do they seem Yorkshire people, 
or strangers ? " 

"Why, most of them that I have 
seen," replied Parkinson, " seem 
strangers." 

"Ah, they will prove, I suppose, 
the later steps of the pedigree, when 
Stephen Dreddlington married at a 
distance from his native county." 

They then entered into a very full 
and minute examination of the case ; 
after which, — "Well," said the At- 
torney - General, evidently fatigued 
with his long journey, and rising 
from his chair, "we must trust to 
what will turn up in the chapter of 
accidents to-morrow. I shall be ex- 
pected to dine with the bar to-day," 
he added ; ' ' but immediately after 
dinner — say at seven o'clock, I shall 
be here, and at your service, if any- 
thing should be required." Then the 
consultation broke up. Mr. Aubrey 
had, at their earnest entreaty, brought 
Mrs. Aubrey and Kate from Yatton, 
on Saturday ; for they declared them- 
selves unable to bear the dreadful sus- 
pense in which they should be left at 
Yatton. Yielding, therefore, to these 
their very reasonable wishes, he had 
engaged private lodgings at the out- 
skirts of the town. On quitting the 
consultation, which, without at the 
same time affecting over-strictness, he 
had regretted being fixed for Sunday 
— -but the necessity of the case ap- 
peared to warrant it — he repaired to 
the magnificent minstkm, where the 
tvi nii.g prayers were beiir' read, and 



where were Mrs. Aubrey and Kate'. 
They were chanting the prayers as he 
entered, and was placed in a stall 
nearly opposite to where those whom 
he loved so fondly were standing. The 
psalms allotted for the evening were 
those in which the royal sufferer, 
David, was pouring forth the deepest 
sorrows of his heart ; and their appro- 
priateness to his own state of mind, 
added to the effect produced by the 
melting melody in which they were 
conveyed to his ears, excited in him, 
and, he perceived, also in those oppo- 
site, the deepest emotion. The glorious 
pile was beginning to grow dusky with 
the stealing shadows of evening ; and 
the solemn and sublime strains of the 
organ, during the playing of the 
anthem, filled the minds of all present 
who had any pretensions to sensibility, 
with mingled feelings of tenderness 
and awe. Those in whom we are so 
deeply interested, felt their minds at 
once subdued and elevated ; and as 
they quitted the darkening fabric, 
through which the pealing tones of 
the organ were yet reverberating, they 
could not help enquiring, Should they 
ever enter it again, — and in what 
altered circumstances might it be ? 

To return, however — though it is, 
indeed, like descending from the holy 
mountain into the bustle and hubbub 
of the city at its foot — Mr. Parkinson, 
being most unexpectedly and unfor- 
tunately summoned to Grilston that 
afternoon, in order to send up some 
deeds of one of his distinguished clients 
to London, for the purpose of imme- 
diately effecting a mortgage, set off in 
a post-chaise, at top speed, in a very 
unenviable frame of mind ; and by 
seven o'clock was seated in his office 
at Grilston, busily turning over a great 
number of deeds and papers, in a large 
tin-case, with the words ' ' Right Hon- 
ourable the Earl of Yelverton, " painted 
on the outside. Having turned over 
almost everything inside, and found 
all that he wanted, he was going to 
toss back again all the deeds which 
were not requisite for his immediate 
purpose, when he happened to see one 
lying at the very bottom, which he 
had not before observed. Jt was not 

Q 



226 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



a large, but an old deed — and he took 
it up and hastily examined it. 

We have seen a piece of unexpected 
good fortune on the part of Gammon 
and his client ; and the reader will not 
be disappointed at finding something 
of a similar kind befalling Mr. Aubrey, 
even at the eleventh hour. Mr. Park- 
inson's journey, which he had execrated 
a hundred times over as he came clown, 
produced a discovery which made him 
tremble all over with agitation and 
excitement, and begin to look upon it 
as almost owing to an interference 
of Providence. The deed he looked 
at bore an endorsement of the name of 
" Dredcttington." After a hasty glance 
over its contents, he tried to recollect 
by what accident a document, belong- 
ing to Mr. Aubrey, could have found 
its way into the box containing Lord 
Yelverton's deeds ; and it at length 
occurred to him that, about a twelve- 
month before, Mr. Aubrey had pro- 
posed advancing several thousand 
pounds to Lord Yelverton, on mort- 
gage of a portion of his lordship's 
property — but which negotiation had 
afterwards been broken off ; that Mr. 
Aubrey's title-deeds happened to be at 
the same time open and loose in his 
office — and he recollected having con- 
siderable trouble in separating the 
respective documents which had got 
mixed together. This one, after all, 
had been by some accident over- 
looked, till it turned up in this most 
timely and extraordinary manner ! 
Having hastily effected the object 
which had brought him back to Gril- 
ston, he ordered a post-chaise and 
four, and within a quarter-of-an-hour 
was thundering back, at top speed, on 
his way to York, which, the horses 
reeking and foaming, he reached a 
little after ten o'clock. He jumped 
out, with the precious deed in his 
pocket, the instant that his chaise- 
door was opened, and ran off, without 
saying more than — "I'm gone to the 
Attorney-General's." This was heard 
by many passers-by and persons stand- 
ing round ; and it spread far and wide 
that something of the utmost import- 
ance had transpired, with reference 
to the great ejectment cause of Mr. 



Aubrey. Soon afterwards, messengers 
and clerks, belonging to Mr. Eunning- 
ton and Mr. Parkinson, were to be 
seen running to and fro, summoning 
Mr. Sterling, Mr. Crystal, Mr. Mans- 
field, and also Mr. Aubrey, to a second 
consultation at the Attorney-General's. 
About eleven o'clock they were all 
assembled. The deed which had occa- 
sioned all his excitement, was one 
calculated indeed to produce that 
effect ; and it filled the minds of all 
present with astonishment and delight. 
In a word, it was a deed of confirma- 
tion by old Dreddlington, the father 
of Harry Dreddlington, of the con- 
veyance by the latter to Geoffry 
Dreddlington, who, in the manner 
already mentioned to the reader, had 
got an assignment of that conveyance 
to himself. After the Attorney- General 
had satisfied himself as to the account 
to be given of the deed — the custody 
from whence it came, namely, the 
attorney for the defendant ; Mr. Park- 
inson undertaking to swear, without 
any hesitation, that whatever deeds of 
Mr. Aubrey's he possessed, he had 
taken from the muniment-room at 
Yatton — the second consultation broke 
up. Mr. Aubrey, on hearing the 
nature and effect of the instrument 
explained by the Attorney-General 
and Mr. Mansfield, and all his counsel, 
in short, concurring in opinion as to 
the triumphant effect which this 
instrument would produce on the 
morrow, may be pardoned for regard- 
ing it, in the excitement of the mo- 
ment, as almost a direct interference 
of Providence. 

A few minutes before nine o'clock 
on the ensuing morning, the occasional 
shrill blasts of the trumpets announced 
that the judges were on their way to 
the castle, the approaches to which 
were crowded with carriages and pe- 
destrians of a highly respectable ap- 
pearance. As the castle clock finished 
striking nine, Lord Widdrington took 
his seat, and the swearing of the spe- 
cial jury commenced. The court was 
crowded almost to suffocation ; all the 
chief places being filled with persons 
of distinction in the county. The 
benches on each side of the judge 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



227 



were occupied by ladies, who — especial- 
ly the Countess of Oldacre and Lady 
De la Zouch — evinced a painful degree 
of anxiety and excitement in their 
countenances and demeanour. The 
bar also mustered in great force ; the 
crown court being quite deserted, al- 
though a great murder case was going 
on there. The civil court was on the 
present occasion the point of attrac- 
tion, not only on account of the in- 
teresting nature of the case to be tried, 
but of the keen contest that was ex- 
pected between the Attorney-General 
and Mr. Subtle. The former, .as he 
entered • — his commanding features 
gazed at by many an anxious eye with 
hope, and a feeling that on his skill 
and learning depended that day the 
destination of the Yatton property — 
bowed to the judge, and then nodded 
and shook hands with several of the 
counsel nearest to him ; then he sat 
down, and opening his bag, took out 
his huge brief, and began turning over 
its leaves with a calm and attentive 
air, occasionally turning round and 
conversing with his juniors. Every 
one present observed that the defend- 
ant's counsel and attorneys wore the 
confident looks of winning men ; while 
their opponents, quick-sighted enough, 
also observed the circumstance, and 
looked, on that account alone, a shade 
more anxious than when they had 
entered the court. Mr. Subtle re- 
quested Gammon, whose ability he 
had soon detected, to sit immediately 
beneath him ; next to Gammon sat 
Quirk, then Snap, and beside him 
Mr. Titmouse, with a staring sky-blue 
flowered silk handkerchief round his 
neck, a gaudy waistcoat, a tight sur- 
tout, and white kid gloves. He looked 
exceedingly pale, and dared hardly in- 
terchange a word with even Snap, who 
was just as irritable and excited as his 
senior partners. It was quickly known 
all over the court who Titmouse was. 
Mr. Aubrey scarcely showed himself 
in court all day, though he stood at 
the door near the bench, and could 
hear all that passed ; Lord De la Zouch 
and one or two other personal friends 
standing with him, engaged, from time 
to time, in anxious conversation. 



The jury having been sworn, Mr. 
Lynx rose, and in a few hurried sen- 
tences, to the lay audience utterly 
unintelligible, intimated the nature 
of the pleadings in the cause. The 
Attorney-General then rose, and re- 
quested that all the witnesses might 
leave the court. As soon as the little 
disturbance occasioned by this move 
had ceased, Mr. Subtle rose, and in a 
low but distinct tone said, "May it 
please your Lordship — Gentlemen of 
the Jury, — In this cause I have the 
honour to appear before you as counsel 
for the plaintiff ; and it now becomes 
my duty to state, as briefly as I can, 
the nature of his case. It is impos- 
sible, gentlemen, not to notice the 
unusual interest excited by the cause ; 
and which may be accounted for by 
the very large estates in this county 
which are sought this day to be trans- 
ferred to a comparative stranger, from 
the family who have long enjoyed 
them, and of whom I am anxious to 
say everything respectful ; for you will 
very soon find that the name on the 
record is that of only the nominal 
defendant ; and although all that is 
professed to be this day sought for, is 
a very trifling portion of the property, 
your verdict will undoubtedly decide 
the question as to the true ownership 
and enjoyment of the large estates 
now held by the gentleman who is the 
substantial defendant — I mean Mr. 
Aubrey, the member of Parliament for 
the borough of Yatton." Aware of 
the watchful and formidable opponent 
who would in due time answer him, 
and also of being himself entitled to 
the general reply — to the last word — 
Mr. Subtle proceeded to state the 
nature of the plaintiff's case with the 
utmost brevity and clearness. Scarcely 
any sound was heard but that of the 
pens of the short-hand writers, and of 
the counsel taking their notes. Mr. 
Subtle, having handed up two or three 
copies of the pedigree which he held 
in his hand to the judge and jury, 
pointed out with distinctness and 
precision every link in the chain of 
evidence which he intended to lay 
before the jury ; and having done this 
— having presented as few salient 



228 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



points of attack to his opponent as 
he possibly could — he sat down, pro- 
fessing his entire ignorance of what 
case could he set up in answer to that 
which he had opened. He had not 
been on his legs quite half-an-hour ; 
and when he ceased — how he had dis- 
appointed every one present, except 
the judge and the bar ! Instead of a 
speech befitting so great an occasion — 
impressive and. eloquent — here had 
been a brief dry statement of a few 
uninteresting facts — dates, births, 
deaths, marriages, registers, entries, 
inscriptions, deeds, wills — without a 
single touch of feeling or ray of elo- 
quence. The momentary feeling of 
disappointment in the audience, how- 
ever — almost all of whom, it may 
easily be believed, were in the interest 
of the Aubreys — quickly yielded to 
one of satisfaction and relief ; as they 
thought they might regard so meagre 
a speech as heralding in as meagre a 
case. As soon as he sat down, Mr. 
Quicksilver rose and called the first 
witness. "We're safe!" said the 
Attorney-General to Mr. Sterling and 
Mr. Crystal, with his hand before his 
mouth, and with the very faintest 
whisper that could be audible to those 
whom he addressed ; and the witness 
having been sworn, they all resumed 
their seats and their writing. The 
first and the subsequent witness estab- 
lished one or two preliminary and 
formal points — the Attorney-General 
scarcely rising to put a question to 
them. The third witness was ex- 
amined by Mr. Subtle with apparent 
unconcern, but really with exquisite 
anxiety. From the earnestness and 
attention with which the words of the 
witness were watched and taken down 
by both the judge and the counsel, 
who knew much better than the audi- 
ence where the strain of the case com- 
menced, it must have appeared to the 
latter, that either Mr. Subtle under- 
estimated, or his opponents over- 
estimated, the value of the evidence 
now in process of being extracted by 
Mr. Subtle, in short, easy, pointed 
questions, and with a smiling uncon- 
cerned countenance. 
; " Not so fast, sir, " gruffly interposed 



Lord Widdrington, addressing the 
witness. 

"Take time, Mr. Jones," said Mr. 
Subtle blandly, fearful of ruffling or 
discomposing an important witness. 
The Attorney-General rose to cross- 
examine ; pressed him quietly but 
closely ; varied the shape of his ques- 
tions ; now he soothed, then he start- 
led by his sternness ; but sat down, 
evidently having produced no impres- 
sion. Thus it was with one or two 
succeeding witnesses ; the Attorney- 
General, on each occasion, resuming 
his seat after his abortive efforts, with 
perfect composure. At length, how- 
ever, by a very admirable and well- 
sustained fire of cross-questioning, he 
completely demolished a material wit- 
ness ; and the hopes of all interested 
in behalf of his clients rose high. Mr. 
Subtle, who had been all the while 
paring his nails, and from time to time 
smiling with a careless air, (though you 
might as safely have touched a tigress 
suckling her cubs, as attempted at that 
moment to disturb him, so absorbed 
was he with intense anxiety, ) believing 
that he could establish the same facts 
by another and, as he believed, a better 
witness, did not re-examine ; but call- 
ing that other, with an air of non- 
chalance, succeeded in extracting from 
him all that the other had failed in, 
and in baffling all the attempts of 
the Attorney-General to affect his 
credit, or disturb his equanimity. At 
length, another witness being in the 
box, — 

"My Lord, I object to that ques- 
tion," said Mr. Attorney-General, as 
Mr. Subtle, amidst many indifferent 
and apparently irrelevant questions, 
quietly slipped in one of the greatest 
possible importance, had it been an- 
swered as he desired. 'Twas quite 
delightful to see the Attorney-General 
and his experienced and watchful 
juniors, all rise at one and the same 
instant : showing how vain were the 
tricks and ingenuity of their sly op- 
ponent. Mr. Attorney-General stated 
his objection, briefly and pointedly; 
Mr. Subtle answered him, followed by 
Quicksilver and Lynx ; and then Mr. 
Attorney-General replied, with great 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



220 



force and. clearness. This keen en- 
counter of their wits over — 

" I shall allow the question to be 
put," said Lord Widdrington, after a 
pause — " But I have great doubts as 
to its propriety. I will therefore, take 
a note of Mr. Attorney-General's ob- 
jection." 

Four or five similar conflicts arose 
during the course of the plaintiff's 
cas.e ; — now concerning the competency 
^f a witness — then as to the admissi- 
bility of a document, or the propriety 
of a particular question. On each of 
these occasions there were displayed 
on both sides consummate logical skill 
and acuteness, especially by the two 
leaders. Distinctions the most delicate 
and subtle were suggested with sud- 
denness, and as promptly encountered ; 
the most artful manoeuvres to secure 
dangerous admissions resorted to, and 
baffled ; the more recondite principles 
of evidence brought to bear with ad- 
mirable readiness on both sides. To 
deal with them, required indeed the 
practised, .penetrating, and powerful 
intellect of Lord Widdrington. Some 
points he disponed of promptly, to the 
satisfaction of both parties ; on others 
he hesitated, and at length reserved 
them. Though none but the more 
experienced and able members of the 
bar could in the least degree enter into 
and appreciate the nature of these 
conflicts, they were watched 'with un- 
tiring attention and eagerness by all 
present, both ladies and gentlemen — 
by the lowly and the distinguished. 
And though the intensity of the feel- 
ings of all was manifest by a mere 
glimpse round the court, yet any 
momentary display of eccentricity on 
the part of a witness, or petulance or 
repartee on the part of counsel, would 
occasion a momentary merriment that 
in point of fact served only as a sort 
of relief to the strained feelings of the 
audience, and instantly disappeared. 
The tombstone part of the case was 
got through easily ; scarce any attempt 
being made on the part of Mr. Aubrey's 
counsel, to resist or interfere with it. 
But the great — the hottest part of the 
fight — occurred at that point of the 
case, where Titmouse's descent from 



Stephen Dreddlington was sought to 
be established. This gentleman, who 
had been a very wild person, whose 
movements were very difficult to be 
traced or accounted for, had enterod 
the navy, and ultimately died at sea, 
as had always been imagined, single 
and childless. It was proved, however, 
that so far from such being the case, 
he had married a person at Portsmouth, 
of inferior station ; and that bj' her ho 
had a daughter, only two years before 
his death, which happened at sea, as 
has been stated. Both mother and 
daughter, after undergoing great priva- 
tion, and no notice being taken of the 
mother by any of her late husband's 
family, removed to the house of a 
humble and distant relative in Cum- 
berland, where the mother afterwards 
died, leaving her daughter only fifteen 
years old. When she grew up, she 
lived in some menial capacity in Cum- 
berland, and ultimately married one 
Gabriel Tittlebat Titmouse ; who, after 
living for some years a cordwainer at 
Whitehaven, found his way to Grilston, 
in Yorkshire, in the neighbourhood of 
which town he had lived for some 
years, in very humble circumstances. 
There he had married ; and about two 
years afterwards his wife died, leaving 
a son — our friend Tittlebat Titmouse. 
Both of them afterwards came to 
London ; where, in four or five years' 
time, the father died, leaving the little. 
Titmouse to flutter and hop about 
in the wide world as best he could. 
During the whole of this part of the 
case Mr. Gammon had evinced his 
deep anxiety, and at a particular point 
— perhaps the crisis — his agitation was 
excessive ; yet it was almost entirely 
concealed by his remarkable self-con- 
trol. The little documentary evidence 
of which Gammon, at his first inter- 
view with Titmouse, found him pos- 
sessed, proved at the trial, as Gammon 
had foreseen, of great importance. The 
evidence in support of this part of the 
case, and which it took till two o'clock 
on the ensuing afternoon to get through, 
was subjected to a most determined and 
skilful opposition by the Attorney- 
General, but in vain. The case had 
been got up with the utmost care, 



230 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAli. 



under the excellent management of 
Lynx ; and Mr. Subtle's consummate 
tact and ability brought it, at length, 
fully and distinctly out before the 
jury- 

"That, my Lord," said he, as he 
sat down after re-examining his last 
witness, "is the case on the part of 
the plaintiff." On this the judge and 
jury withdrew, for a short time, to 
obtain refreshment. During their ab- 
sence, the Attorney-General, Mr. Ster- 
ling, Mr. Crystal, and Mr. Mansfield, 
might have been seen, with their 
heads all laid close together, engaged 
in anxious consultation — a group gazed 
at by the eager eyes of many a spectator 
whose beating. heart wished their cause 
God-speed. The Attorney-General then 
withdrew for a few moments, also to 
seek refreshment ; and returning at 
the same time with the judge, after a 
moment's pause rose, bowed to the 
judge, then to the jury, and opened 
the defendant's case. His manner was 
calm and impressive ; his person was 
dignified : and his clear, distinct voice 
fell on the listening ear like the sound 
of silver. After a graceful allusion to 
the distinguished character of his friend 
and client, Mr. Aubrey, (to whose 
eminent position in the House of 
Commons he bore his personal testi- 
mony,) and to the magnitude of the 
interests now at stake, he proceeded — 
"On every account, therefore, I feel 
sensible, gentlemen, to an unusual and 
most painful extent, of the very great 
responsibility now resting upon my 
learned friends and myself; lest any 
miscarriage of mine should prejudice 
in any degree the important interests 
committed to us, or impair the strength 
of the case which 1 am about to submit 
to you on the part of Mr. Aubrey : a 
case which, I assure you, unless some 
extraordinary mischance should befall 
us, will I believe annihilate that which, 
with so much pains, so much tact, and 
so much ability, has just been laid be- 
fore you by my learned friend Mr. 
Subtle ; and establish the defendant 
in the safe possession of that large 
property which is the subject of the 
present most extraordinary and unex- 
pected litigation. But, gentlemen, 



before proceeding so far as that 3 it is 
fitting that I should call your attention 
to the nature of the case set up on the 
part of the plaintiff, and the sort of 
evidence by which it has been at- 
tempted to be supported ; and I am 
very sanguine of being successful in 
showing you that the plaintiff's wit- 
nesses are not entitled to the credit to 
which they lay claim ; and, conse- 
quently, that there is no case made 
out for the defendant to answer." He 
then entered into a rigorous analysis 
of the plaintiff's evidence, contrasting 
each conflicting portion with the other, 
with singular force and cogency ; and 
commenting with powerful severity 
upon the demeanour and character of 
many of the witnesses. On proceeding, 
at length, to open the case of the 
defendant — "And here, gentlemen," 
said he, ' ' I am reminded of the ob- 
servation with which my learned friend 
concluded — that he was entirely igno- 
rant of the case which we meant to set 
up in answer to that which he had 
opened on the part of the plaintiff. 
Gentlemen, it would have been curious, 
indeed, .had it been otherwise — had 
my friend's penetrating eye been able 
to inspect the contents of our strong- 
box — and so become acquainted with 
the evidence on which my client rests 
his title to the property now in dis- 
pute. He has, however, succeeded in 
entitling himself to information on 
that point ; and he shall have it — and 
to his heart's content." Here Mr. 
Subtle cast a glance of smiling in- 
credulity towards the jury, and defi- 
ance towards the Attorney-General : 
he took his pen into his hand, how- 
ever, and his juniors looked very anx- 
ious. "Gentlemen," continued the 
Attorney-General, "I will now con- 
cede to my learned friend every inch 
of the case which he has been en- 
deavouring to make out ; that he has 
completely established his pedigree. — 
Mind, gentlemen, I concede this only 
for the purpose of the case which I 
am about to lay before you." He then 
mentioned the conveyance by Harry 

Dreddlington of all his interest 

"You forget that he died in his 
father's lifetime, Mr. Attomey-Gen- 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



231 



oral," interposed Mr. Subtle, with a 
placid smile, and the air of a man 
who is suddenly relieved from a vast 
pri'spure of anxiety. 

"Not a bit of it, gentlemen, not a 
bit of it — 'tis a part of my case. My 
learned friend is quite right ; Harry 
Dreddlington did die in his father's 
lifetime : — but — " Here Sir. Subtle 
gazed at the Attorney-General with 
unaffected curiosity ; and, when the 
latter came to mention ' ' the Deed of 
Confirmation by the father of Harry 
Dreddlington," an acute observer 
might have observed a slight change 
of colour in Mr. Subtle. Mr. Quick- 
silver went on writing — for he was 
entirely out of his depth, and therefore 
occupied himself with thinking over 
an article he was writing for some 
political review. Mr. Lynx looked at 
the Attorney-General as if he expected 
every instant to receive a musket-ball 
in his breast. 

"What, 'confirm' a nullity, Mr. 
Attorney-General ? " interrupted Mr. 
Subtle, laying down his pen with a 
smile of derision ; but a moment or 
two afterwards, "Mr. Mortmain," 
said he, in a hasty whisper, "what do 
you think of this ? Tell me — in four 
words — " Mortmain, his eye glued 
to the face of the Attorney-General 
the while, muttered hastily something 
about — operating as a new grant — as 
a new conveyance. 

" Pshaw ! I mean what's the answer 
to it ? " muttered Mr. Subtle im- 
patiently ; but his countenance pre- 
served its expression of smiling non- 
chalance. "You will oblige me, Mr. 
Mortmain," he by and by whispered, 
in a quiet but peremptory tone, " by 
giving your utmost attention to the 
question as to the effect of this deed — 
so that I may shape my objection to 
it properly when it is tendered in evi- 
dence. If it really have the legal effect 
attributed to it, and which I suspect 
is the case, we may as well shut up 
our briefs. I thought there must be 
some such cursed point or other in the 
background." 

Gammon saw the real state of Mr. 
Subtle's mind, and his cheek turned 
pale, but he preserved a smile on his 



countenance, as he sat with his arms 
folded. Quirk eyed him with undis- 
guised agitation, scarce daring to look 
up at Mr. Subtle. Titmouse, seeing a 
little dismay in his camp, turned very 
white and cold, and sat still, scarce 
daring to brea.the ; while Snap looked 
like a terrier going to have its teeth 
pulled out. 

At length the Attorney - General, 
after stating that, in addition to the 
case which he had intimated, as rest- 
ing mainly on the deed of confirmation, 
he should proceed to prove the pedigree 
of Mr. Aubrey, sat down, having spoken 
about two hours and a half, expressing 
his conviction that when the defend- 
ant's evidence should have been closed, 
the jury, under his lordship's direction, 
would return a verdict for the defend- 
ant ; and that, too, without leaving 
the jury-box, where, by their long and 
patient attention, they had so honour- 
ably acquitted themselves of the im- 
portant duty imposed upon them by 
the constitution. 

" James Parkinson ! " exclaimed Mr. 
Sterling, quietly but distinctly, as the 
Attorney-General sat down. "You 
are the attorney for the defendant ? " 
enquired Mr. Sterling, as soon as the 
witness had been sworn. "Do you 
produce a conveyance between Harry 
Dreddlington and Moses Aaron ?" &c. 
(specifying it. ) It was proved and put 
in, without much opposition. So also 
was another — the assignment from 
Moses Aaron to Geoffry Dreddlington. 

"Do you also produce a deed be- 
tween Harry Dreddlington the elder 
and Geoffry Dreddlington ? " and he 
mentioned the date and names of all 
the parties. Mr. Parkinson handed 
in the important document. 

" Stay, stay ; where did you get 
that deed, Mr. Parkinson ? " enquired 
Mr. Subtle sharply, extending his hand 
for the deed. 

" From my office at Grilston, where 
I keep many of Mr. Aubrey's title- 
deeds." 

" When did you bring it hither ? " 

" About ten o'clock last night, for 
the purpose of this trial." 

" How long has it been at your 
office ? " 



232 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



"Ever since I fetched it, a year or 
two ago, with other deeds, from the 
muniment-room of Yatton Hali." 

' ' How long have you been solicitor 
to Mr. Aubrey ? " 

"For this ten years ; and my father 
was solicitor to his father for twenty- 
five years." 

' ' Will you swear that this deed was 
in your office before the proceedings 
in this action were brought to your 
notice ? " 

" I have not the slightest doubt in 
the world." 

' ' That does not satisfy me, sir. 
Will you swear that it was ? " 

" I will, sir," replied Mr. Parkinson 
firmly. "It never attracted any more 
notice from me than any other of Mr. 
Aubrey's deeds, till my attention was 
drawn to it in consequence of these 
proceedings." 

" Has any one access to Mr. Aubrey's 
deeds at your office but yourself ? " 

" None that I know of ; I keep all 
the deeds of my clients that are at my 
office in their respective boxes, and 
allow no one access to them, except 
under my immediate notice, and in 
my presence. " 

Then Mr. Subtle sat down. 

" My Lord, we now propose to put 
in this deed," said the Attorney- 
General, unfolding it. 

"Allow me to look at it, Mr. At- 
torney," said Mr. Subtle. It was 
handed to him ; and he, his juniors, 
and Mr. Mortmain, rising up, were en- 
gaged most anxiously in scrutinizing it 
for some minutes. Mortmain having 
looked at the stamp, sat down, and 
opening his bag, hastily drew out an 
old well-worn volume, which contained 
all the stamp acts that had ever been 
passed from the time of William the 
Third, when, I believe, the first of 
those blessings was conferred upon 
this country. First he looked at the 
deed — then at his book — then at the 
deed again ; and at length might be 
seen, with earnest gestures, putting 
Mr. Subtle in possession of his opinion 
on the subject. "My Lord," said 
Mr. Subtle after a pause, " I object to 
this instrument being received in 
evidence, on account of the insufficiency 



of the stamp. " This produced quite a 
sensation in court. Mr. Subtle then pro- 
ceeded to mention the character of the 
stamp affixed to the deed, and read the 
act which was in force at the time that 
the deed bore date ; and, after a few 
additional observations, sat down, and 
was followed by Mr. Quicksilver and 
Mr. Lynx. Then arose the Attorney- 
General, having in the mean time care- 
fully looked at the Act of Parliament, 
and submitted to his Lordship that 
the stamp was sufficient ; being fol- 
lowed by his juniors. Mr. Subtle 
replied at some length. 

"I certainly entertain some diffi- 
culty on the point, " said his Lordship, 
"and will mention the matter to my 
brother Grayley." Taking with him 
the deed, and Mr. Mortmain's Stamp 
Acts, his lordship left the court, and 
was absent a quarter of an hour — half 
an hour — three quarters of an hour ; 
and at length returned. 

"' I have consulted," said he, as soon 
as he had taken his seat, amidst the 
profoundest silence, " my brother 
Grayley, and we have very fully con- 
sidered the point. My brother hap- 
pens, fortunately, to have by him a 
manuscript note of a case in which he 
was counsel, about eighteen years ago, 
and in which the exact point arose 
which exists in the present case. He 
then read out of a thick manuscript 
book, which he had brought with him 
from Mr. Justice Grayley, the par- 
ticulars of the case alluded to, and 
which was certainly almost precisely 
similar to those then before the court. 
In the case referred to, the stamp had 
been held sufficient ; and so, his Lord- 
ship and his brother Grayley were of 
opinion, was., the stamp in the deed 
then before him. The cloud which had 
settled upon the countenances of the 
Attorney-General and his party, here 
flitted over to and settled upon those 
of his opponents. "Your Lordship 
will perhaps take a note of the objec- 
tion," said Mr. Subtle, somewhat 
chagrined. Lord Widdrington nod- 
ded,^ and immediately made the 
requisite entry in his notes. 

"Now, then, we propose to put in 
and read this deed, " said the Attorney- 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



General, with a smile of suppressed 
triumph, holding out his hand towards 
-Mr. Lynx, who was spelling over it 
very eagerly — " I presume my learned 
friend will require only the operative 
parts to be read " — here Lynx, with 
some excitement, called his leader's 
attention to something which had 
occurred to him in the deed : up got 
Quicksilver and Mortmain ; and 
presently — 

" Not quite so fast, Mr. Attorney, 
if you please," said Mr. Subtle .with a 
little elation of manner — "I have 
another, and I apprehend a clearly 
fatal objection to the admissibility of 
this deed, till my learned friend shall 
have accounted for an erasure " — 

"Erasure!" echoed the Attorney- 
General with much surprise — " Allow 
me to see the deed ; " and he took it 
with an incredulous smile, which, 
however, disappeared as he looked 
more and more closely at the instru- 
ment ; Mr. Sterling, Mr. Crystal, 
and Mr. Mansfield also looking ex- 
tremely serious. 

"I've hit them now,'" said Mr. 
..Subtle, to those behind him, as he 
leaned back, and looked with no little 
triumph at his opponents — " by Jove ! 
— was there ever anything so lucky in 
this world before ? " From what ap- 
parently inadequate and trifling causes 
often flow great results ! The plain 
fact of the case was merely this. The 
attorney's clerk, in copying out the 
deed, which was one of considerable 
length, had .written four or five 
words by mistake ; and fearing to ex- 
asperate his master, by rendering 
necessary a new deed and stamp, and 
occasioning trouble and delay, neatly 
scratched out the erroneous words, and 
over the erasure wrote the correct ones. 
As he was the party who was entrusted 
with seeing to and witnessing the exe- 
cution of the instrument, he of course 
took no notice of the alteration, and — 
see the result ! The ownership of an 
estate of ten thousand a-year about to 
turn upon the effect of this erasure ! 

" Hand me up the deed," said the 
Judge ; and inspected it minutely for a 
minute or two. 

"Has any one a magmfymg-glass 



in court ? " enquired the Attorney- 
General, with a look of increasing 
anxiety. No one happened to have 
one. 

" Is it necessary, Mr. Attorney?" said 
Lord Widdrington, handing down the 
instrument to him with an ominous 
look. 

"Well — you object, of course, Mr. 
Subtle — as I understand you — that 
this deed is void, on account of an 
erasure in a material part of it ? " en- 
quired Lord Widdrington. 

" That is my objection, my Lord," 
said Mr. Subtle, sitting down. 

"Now, Mr. Attorney," continued 
the Judge, turning to the Attorney- 
General, prepared to take a note of any 
observations he might offer. The 
spectators — the whole court — were 
aware that the great crisis of the 
case had arrived ; and there was a 
sickening silence. The Attorney- 
General, with perfect calmness and 
self-possession, immediately addressed 
the court in answer to the objection. 
That there was an erasure, which, 
owing to the hurry with which the 
instrument had been looked at, had 
been overlooked, was indisputable ; of 
course the Attorney-General's argu- 
ment was, that it was an erasure in a 
part not material ; but it was easy to 
see that he spoke with the air of a 
man who argues contra spem. What 
he said, however, was pertinent and 
forcible ; the same might be said of 
Mr. Sterling and Mr. Crystal; but 
they were all plainly gravelled. Mr. 
Subtle replied with cruel cogency : 
Mr. Quicksilver seized the opportunity 
— not choosing to see that the Judge 
was with them — to make a most 
dangerous but showy speech ; Mr. 
Subtle sitting beside him in- the ut- 
most distress, looking as if he could 
have withered him with a word. In 
consequence of some very unguarded 
admissions of Quicksilver, down came 
upon him Lord Widdrington ; and 
Mr. Subtle— the only time during the 
whole cause in which he lost his self- 
command — uttered a half-stifled curse 
at the. folly of Quicksilver, that could 
be heard by half the bar, perhaps even 
by the Judge, who greatly relished the 



234 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



exposure he was making of Quick- 
silver's indiscretion. At length he sat 
down, with a somewhat foolish air, 
Mr. Subtle turning his back full upon 
him before the whole court ; but when 
Lynx rose, and in a business-like way, 
with only a word or two, put the point 
again fully before Lord Widdrington, 
the scowl gradually disappeared from 
the brow of Mr. Subtle. 

"Well," said Lord "Widdrington, 
when Mr. Lynx had done, "I own I 
feel no doubt at all upon the matter ; 
but as it is certainly of the greatest 
possible importance, I will just see how 
it strikes my brother Grayley." With 
this he took the deed in his hand, and 
quitted the court. He touched Mr. 
Aubrey, in passing to his private room, 
holding the deed before him. After an 
absence of about ten minutes, Lord 
Widdrington returned. 

' ' Silence ! silence there ! " bawled 
the crier ; and the bustle had soon 
subsided into profound silence. 

" I entertain no doubt, nor does my 
brother Grayley," said Lord Widdring- 
ton, "that I ought not to receive this 
deed in evidence, without accounting 
for an erasure occurring in a clearly 
essential part of it. Unless, therefore, 
you are prepared, Mr. Attorney, with 
any evidence as to this point, I shall 
not receive the deed." 

There was a faint buzz all over the 
court — a buzz of excitement, anxiety, 
and disappointment. The Attorney- 
General consulted for a moment or two 
with his friends. 

' ' Undoubtedly, my Lord, we are 
not prepared with any evidence to 
explain an appearance which has taken 
us entirely by surprise. After this 
length of time, my Lord, of course " 

' ' Certainly — it is a great misfortune 
for the parties — a great misfortune. 
Of course you tender the deed in evi- 
dence ?" he continued, taking a note. 

"We do, my Lord, certainly." 

You should have seen the faces of 
Messrs. Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, as 
they looked at Mr. Parkinson, with 
an agitated air, returning the rejected 
deed to the bag from which it had 
been lately taken with so confident 
and triumphant an air ! — The . re- 



mainder of the case, which had been 
opened by the Attorney- General on 
behalf of Mr. Aubrey, was then pro- 
ceeded with ; but in spite of all their 
assumed calmness, the disappointment 
and distress of his counsel were per- 
ceptible to all. They were now de- 
jected — they felt that the cause was 
lost, unless some extraordinary good 
fortune should yet befall them. They 
were not long in establishing the 
descent of Mr. Aubrey from Geoffry 
Dreddlington. It was necessary to do 
so ; for grievously as they had been 
disappointed in failing to establish the 
title paramount, founded upon the 
deed of confirmation of Mr. Aubrey, 
it was yet an important question for 
the jury, whether they believed the 
evidence adduced by the plaintiff to 
show title in himself. 

" That, my Lord, is the defendant's 
case," said the Attorney-General, as 
his last witness left the box ; and Mr. 
Subtle then rose to reply. He felt 
how unpopular was his cause ; that 
almost every countenance around him 
bore a hostile expression. Privately, 
he loathed his case when he saw the 
sort of person for whom he was strug- 
gling. All his sympathies — for he was 
a very proud, haughty man — were on 
behalf of Mr. Aubrey, whom by name 
and reputation he well knew ; with 
whom he had often sat in the House 
of Commons. Now, conspicuous be- 
fore him, sat his little monkey-client, 
Titmouse — a ridiculous object; and 
calculated, if there were any scope for 
the influence of prejudice, to ruin his 
own cause by the exhibition of himself 
before the jury. That was the vulgar 
idiot who was to turn ihe admirable 
Aubreys out of Yatton, and send them 
beggared into the world ! — But Mr. 
Subtle was a high-minded English 
advocate ; and if he had seen Miss 
Aubrey in all her loveliness, and knew 
her all depended upon his exertions, 
he could hardly have exerted himself 
more successfully than he did on the 
present occasion. And such, at length, 
was the effect which that exquisitely 
skilful advocate produced, in his ad- 
dress to the jury, that he began to 
bring about a change in the feelings of 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



235 



most around him : even the eye of 
scornful beauty began to direct fewer 
glances of indignation and disgust 
upon Titmouse, as Mr. Subtle's irre- 
sistible rhetoric drew upon their sym- 
pathies in his behalf. "My learned 
friend, the Attorney-General, gentle- 
men, dropped one or two expressions 
of a somewhat disparaging tendency, 
in alluding to my client, Mr. Titmouse ; 
and shadowed forth a disadvantageous 
contrast between the obscure and igno- 
rant plaintiff, and the gifted defendant. 
Good God, gentlemen ! and is my 
humble client's misfortune to become 
his fault ? If he be obscure and igno- 
rant, unacquainted with the usages of 
society, deprived of the blessings of a 
superior education — if he have con- 
tracted vulgarity, whose fault is it ? — 
"Who has occasioned it ? Who plunged 
him and his parents before him into 
an unjust poverty and obscurity, from 
which Providence is about this day to 
rescue him, and put him in possession 
of his own ? Gentlemen, if topics like 
these must be introduced into this 
case, I ask you who is accountable for 
the present condition of my unfortun- 
ate client ? Is he, or are those who 
have been, perhaps unconsciously, but 
still unjustly, so long revelling in the 
wealth that is his ? Gentlemen, in 
the name of everything that is manly 
and generous, I challenge your sym- 
pathy, your commiseration, for my 
client." Here Titmouse, who had 
been staring upopen-mouthed for some 
time at his eloquent advocate, and 
could be kept quiet no lenger by the 
most vehement efforts of Messrs. Quirk, 
Gammon, and Snap, rose up in an 
excited manner, exclaiming, ' ' Bravo ! 
bravo, bravo, sir ! Ton my life, 
capital ! It's quite true — bravo ! 
bravo ! ■" His astounded advocate 
paused at this unprecedented inter- 
ruption. "Take the puppy out of 
court, sir, or I will not utter one word 
more," said he in a fierce whisper to 
Mr. Gammon. 

"Who is that? Leave the court, 
Your conduct is most indecent, 



sir 

sir 



! I have a great mind to, commit 
sir ! " said Lord Widdrington, 



you, 

directing an awful look down to the 



offender, who had turned of a ghastly 
whiteness. 

"Have mercy upon me, my lord! 
I'll never do it again," he groaned, 
clasping his hands, and verily believing 
that Lord Widdrington was going to 
take the estate away from him. 

Snap at length succeeded in getting 
him out of court, and after the excite- 
ment occasioned by this irregular in- 
terruption had subsided, Mr. Subtle 
resumed : — 

" Gentlemen," said he, in a low 
tone, " I perceive that you are moved 
by this little incident ; and it is 
characteristic of your superior feelings. 
Inferior persons, destitute of sensi- 
bility or refinement, might have smiled 
at "eccentricities which occasion you 
only feelings of greater commiseration. 
I protest, gentlemen — — " his voice 
trembled for a moment, but he soon 
resumed his self-possession ; and, after 
a long and admirable address, sat 
down confident of the verdict. 

"If we lose the verdict, sir," said 
he, bending down and whispering into 
the ear of Gcmmon, "we may thank 
that execrable little puppy for it." 
Gammon changed colour, but made no 
reply. 

Lord Widdrington then commenced 
summing up the case to the jury, with 
his usual care and perspicacity. No- 
thing could be more beautiful than 
the easa with which he extricated the 
facts of the case from the meshes in 
which they had been alternately in- 
volved by Mr. Subtle and the Attor- 
ney-General. As soon as he had 
explained to them the general prin- 
ciples of law applicable to the case, 
he placed before them the facts proved 
by the plaintiff, and the answer of the 
defendant : every one in court trem- 
bled for the result, if the jury took 
the same view which they felt com- 
pelled themselves to take. He sug- 
gested that they should retire to 
consider the case, taking with them 
the pedigrees which had been handed 
in to them ; and added that, if they 
should require his assistance, he should 
remain in his private room for an hour 
or two. Both judge and jury then 
retired, it being about eight o'clock. 



236 



TEX THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



Candles were lit in the court, which 
coni inued crowded to suffocation. Few 
doubted which way the verdict would 
go. Fatigued as must have been most 
of the spectators with a two days' 
confinement and excitement — ladies 
as well as gentlemen — scarce a person 
thought of quitting till the verdict 
had been pronounced. After an hour 
and a half's absence, a cry was heard 
— " Clear the way for the jury ; " and 
one or two officers, with their wands, 
obeyed the directions. As the jury 
were re-entering their box, struggling 
with a little difficulty through the 
crowd, Lord Widdrington resumed his 
seat upon the bench. 

"Gentlemen of the jury, have the 
goodness," said the associate, "to 
answer to your names. — Sir Godolphin 

Fitzherbert " and, while their names 

were thus called over, all the counsel 
took their pens, and, turning over 
their briefs with an air of anxiety, 
prepared to indorse on them the ver- 
dict. As soon as all the jurymen had 
answered, a profound silence ensued. 

"Gentlemen of the jury," enquired 
the associate, "are you agreed upon 
the verdict ? Do you find your verdict 
for the plaintiff, or for the defendant ? " 

" For the plaintiff," replied the 
foreman ; on which the officer, amidst 
a kind of blank dismayed silence, 
making at the same time some hiero- 
glyphics upon the record, muttered — 
" Verdict for the Plaintiff. — Damages 
one shilling. Costs, forty shillings ;" 
while another functionary bawled out, 
amidst the increasing buzz in the 
court, "Have the goodness to wait, 
gentlemen of the jury. You will be 
paid immediately." Whereupon, to 
the disgust and indignation of the 
unlearned spectators, and the aston- 
ishment of some of the gentlemen of 
the jury themselves — many of them 
the very first men of the county — 
Snap jumped up on the form, pulled out 
his purse with an air of exultation, 
and proceeded to remunerate Sir Go- 
dolphin Fitzherbert and his com- 
panions with the sum of two guineas 
each. Proclamation was then made, 
and the court adjourned till the next 
morning. 



CHAPTER XTV. 

"The Attorney-General did his 
work very fairly, I thought — eh, 
Lynx ? " said Mr. Subtle, as, arm-in- 
arm with Mr. Lynx, he quitted the 
castle-gates, each of them on his way 
to their respective lodgings, to prepare 
for their next day's work. 

" Yes — he's a keen hand, to be sure : 
he's given us all work enough; and, 
I must say, it's been a capital set-to 
between you ! I'm very glad you got 
the verdict ! " 

" It wouldn't have done to be beaten 
on one's own dunghill, as it were — 
eh ? By the way, Lynx, that was a 
good hit of yours about the erasure — I 
ought, really, if it had occurred to me 
at the time, to have given you the 
credit of it — 'twas entirely yours, 
Lynx, I must say." 

"Oh, no ! " — replied Lynx modestly. 
" It was a mere accident my lighting 
on it ; the merit was, the use you 
made of it ! " 

"To think of ten thousand a-year 
turning on that same trumpery 
erasure ! " 

' ' But are you sure of our verdict on 
that ground, Mr. Subtle '? Do you 
think "Widdrington was right in 
rejecting that deed ? " 

' ' Eight ? to be sure he was ! But 
I own I got rather uneasy at the way 
the Attorney -General put it — that the 
estate had once been vested, and could 
not be subsequently de-vested by an 
alteration or blemish in the instrument 
evidencing the passing of the estate — 
eh ? that was a good point, Lynx." 

"Ay, but as Lord Widdrington put 
it — that could be only where the 
defect was proved to exist after a 
complete and valid deed had been 
once established." 

"True — true; that's the answer, 
Lynx ; here, you see, the deed is dis- 
graced in the first instance ; no proof, 
in fact, that it ever was a deed — 
therefore, mere waste paper." 

"To be sure, possession has gone 
along with the deed " 

"Possession gone along with it ?— 
What then !— That is to say, the man 



T7^N THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



237 



who has altered it, to benefit himself 
and his heirs, keeps it snugly in his 
own chest — and then that is of itself 
to be sufficient to " 

" Yes — and again, you know, isn't 
it the general rule that the party pro- 
ducing an instrument must account 
for the appearance of erasure or altera- 
tion to encounter the presumption of 
fraud ? — it seems good sense enough ! " 

"It's really been a very interesting 
cause," said Mr. Subtle. 

"Very. Some capital points — that 
of Mortmain's on the stamp act " 

" I'ish, Lynx ! there's nothing in 
it ! I meant the cause itself has been 
an interesting one — uncommonly." 

Mr. Subtle suddenly paused, and 
stood still. "God bless my soul, 
Lynx — I've made a blunder ! " 

" Eh ! " 

' ' Yes — by Jove, a blunder ! Never 
did such a thing since I've led a cause 
before." 

"A blunder? Impossible! — What 
is it ? " enquired Lynx briskly, prick- 
ing up his ears. 

"It will be at least thirty or forty 
pounds out of our client's pocket. I 
forgot to ask "Widdrington for the 
certificate for the costs of the special 
jury. I protest I never did such a 
thing before — I'm quite annoyed — I 
hate to overlook anything." 

" Oh ! is that all ? " enquired Lynx, 
much relieved — "then it's all right! 
"While you we're speaking to Mr. 
Gammon, immediately after the ver- 
dict had been given, I turned towards 
Quicksilver to get him to ask for the 
certificate — but he had seen a man 
with the new ' Times ' containing 
the division on the Catholic claims, 
and had set off after him — so I 
took the liberty, as you seemed very 
earnestly talking to Mr. Gammon, to 
name it to the judge — and it's all 
right." 

"Capital ! — Then there isn t a point 
missed ? And in a good two-days' 
fight that's something." 

"D'ye think we shall keep the ver- 
dict, and get its fruits, Mr. Subtle ? " 

" We shall keep the verdict, I've 
no doubt ; there's nothing in Wid- 
drin"ton's notes that we need be 



afraid of — but of course they'll put us 
to bring another ejectment, perhaps 
several. " 

"Yes — certainly — there must be a 
good deal of fighting before such a 
property as Yatton changes hand-;," 
replied Lynx, with a complacent air ; 
for he saw a few pleasant pickings in 
store for him. " By the way," he 
continued, " our client's a sweet speci- 
men of humanity, isn't he ? " 

"Faugh! odious little reptile ! And 
did you ever in all your life witness 
such a scene as when he interrupted 
me in the way he did ? " 

" Ha, ha ! Never ! But, upon my 
honour, what an exquisite turn you 
gave the thing — it was worth more 
than called it forth — it was admirable. " 

"Pooh— Lynx!" said Mr. Subtle, 
with a gratified air; "knack — mere 
knack — nothing more. My voice 
trembled — eh ? — at least so I in- 
tended." 

"Upon my soul, Mr. Subtle, I 
almost thought you were for the 
moment overcome, and going to shed 
tears." 

"Ah, ha, ha !— Delightful ! I was 
convulsed with inward laughter ! Shed 
tears ! ! Did the Bar take it, Lynx ? " 
enquired Mr. Subtle ; for though he 
hated display, he loved appreciation, 
and by competent persons. " By the 
way, Lynx, the way in which you've 
got up the whole case does you vast 
credit — that opinion of yours on the 
evidence was — upon my word — the 
most masterly" — here he suddenly 
ceased and squeezed his companion's 
arm, motioning him thereby to silence. 
They had come up with two gentle- 
men, walking slowly, and conversing 
in a low tone, but with much earnest- 
ness of manner. They were, in fact, 
Mr. Aubrey and Lord De la Zouch. 
Mr. Subtle and Mr. Lynx crossed over 
to the other side of the narrow street, 
and quickened their pace, so as soon 
to be out of sight and hearing of the 
persons they seemed desirous of avoid- 
ing. Mr. Subtle was, indeed, unable 
to bear the sight of the man whom 
his strenuous and splendid exertions 
during the last two days had tended 
to strip of his all — to thrust from the 



238 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



bright domain of wealth, prosperity, 
distinction, into — as it were — outer 
darkness — the outer darkness of poverty 
— of destitution. 

" It's a bore for Mr. Aubrey, isn't 
it ? " quoth the matter-of-fact Lynx. 

"It's quite frightful!" — replied 
Mr. Subtle, in a tone of voice and with 
a manner which showed how deeply 
he felt what he uttered. "And it's 
not only what he will lose, but what 
he will be liable to — the mesne profits 
— sixty thousand pounds." 

' ' Oh ! — you think, then, that we 
can't go beyond the statute of limita- 
tions ? — Eh"? — is that so clear ? " Mr. 
Subtle looked sharply at Lynx, with 
an expression it would be difficult to 
describe. ' ' Well " — continued the 
impenetrable Lynx — "at all events 
I'll look into it." He felt about as 
much sentiment in the matter, as a pig 
eating acorns would feel interest in the 
antiquity of the oak from which they 
fell, and under whose venerable 
shade he was munching and stuffing 
himself. 

"By the way, Lynx — aren't you 
with me in Higson and Mellington ? " 

" Yes — and it stands first for to- 
morrow morning." 

' ' What's it about ? I've not opened 
my papers, and — why, we've a con- 
sultation fixed for ten to-night." 

" It's libel against a newspaper 
editor — the Pomfret Cockatrice ; 
and our client's a clergyman." 

"What about?" 

" Tithes — grasping, cruelty, and so 
forth." 

"Justification ?" 

" No — not guilty only." 

"Who leads for the defendant ? " 

" Mr. Quicksilver." 

" Oh ! — very well. We must have 
the consultation to-morrow morning, 
at the Castle — ten minutes before the 
sitting of the court. I'm rather tired 
to-night." With this the great leader 
shook hands with his modest, learned, 
laborious junior — and entered his 
lodgings. 

As soon as Titmouse had been 
ejected from the court, in the summary 
way which the reader will remember, 
merely on account of his having, with 



slight indecorum, yielded to the 
mighty impulse of his agitated feel- 
ings, he began to cry bitterly, wring- 
ing his hands, and asking every one 
about him if they thought he could 
get in again, because it was his case 
that was going on. His eyes were red 
and swollen with weeping ; and his 
little breast throbbed violently as he 
walked to and fro from one door of the 
court to the other. " Oh, gents, will 
you get me in again ? " said he, in 
passionate tones, approaching two 
gentlemen, who, with a very anxious 
and oppressed air, were standing 
together at the outside of one of the 
doors — in fact, Lord De la Zouch and 
Mr. Aubrey ; and they quickly re- 
cognized in Titmouse the gentleman 
whose claims were being at that in- 
stant mooted within the court. ' ' Will 
you get me in ? You seem such 
respectable gents — Ton my soul I'm 
going mad ! It's my case that's going 
on ! I'm Mr. Titmouse " 

"We have no power, sir, to get 
you in," replied Lord De la Zouch 
haughtily : so coldly and sternly as to 
cause Titmouse involuntarily to shrink 
from him. 

"The court is crowded to the very 
door, sir — and we really have no more 
right to be present in court, or get 
others into court, than you have," said 
Mr. Aubrey, with mildness and dignity. 

"Thank you, sir! Thank you!" 
quoth Titmouse, moving with an ap- 
prehensive air away from Lord De la 
Zouch, towards Mr. Aubrey. "Know 
quite well who you are, sir ! 'Pon my 
solemn soul, sir, sorry to do all this ; 
but law's law, and right's right, all the 
world over." 

" I desire you to leave us, sir," said 
Lord De la Zouch with irrepressible 
sternness ; " you are very intrusive. 
How can we catch a syllable of what 
is going on while you are chattering 
in this way ? " Titmouse saw that 
Mr. Aubrey looked towards him with 
a very different expression from that 
exhibited by his forbidding companion, 
and would' perhaps have stood his 
ground, but for a glimpse he caught of 
a huge, powdered, broad-shouldered 
footman, in a splendid livery, one r;f 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



239 



Lord De la Zouch's servants, who, 
with a great thick cane in his hand, 
was standing at a little distance be- 
hind, in attendance on the carriage, 
which was standing in the castle-yard. 
This man's face looked so ready for 
mischief, that Titmouse slowly walked 
off. There were a good many standers- 
by, who seemed all to look with disdke 
and distrust at Titmouse. He made 
many ineffectual attempts to persuade 
the door-keeper, who had assisted in 
his extrusion, to re-admit him ; but 
the incorruptible janitor was proof 
against a sixpence — even against a 
shilling ; and at length Titmouse gave 
himself up to despair, and thought 
himself the most miserable man in 
the whole world — as very probably, 
indeed, he was : for consider what 
a horrid interval of suspense he had 
to endure, from the closing of Mr. 
Subtle's speech till the delivery of the 
verdict. But at length, through this 
portentous and apparently impenetra- 
ble cloud burst the rich sunlight of 
success. 

" Mr. Titmouse ! — Mr. Titmouse ! — 
Mr. Tit " 

"Here! Here I am! Here!" — ex- 
claimed the little fellow r , jumping off 
the window-seat on which lie had been 
S-tting for the last hour in the dark, 
half stupefied with grief and exhaus- 
tion. The voice that called him was 
a blessed voice — a familiar voice — the 
voice of Mr. Gammon ; who, as soon 
as the jury began to come back, on 
some pretence or other had quitted his 
seat between Quirk and Snap, in order, 
if the verdict should be for the plain- 
tiff, to be the very first to communi- 
cate it to him. In a moment or two 
Mr. Gammon had grasped both Mr. Tit- 
mouse's hands. " My dear, dear Mr. 
Titmouse, I congratulate you ! You are 
victorious ! God grant you long life to 
enjoy your good fortune ! God bless 
you, Titmouse ! " He wrung Tit- 
mouse's hands — and his voice trembled 
with the intensity of his emotions. 
.Mr. Titmouse had gone very white, 
and for a while spoke not, but stood 
staring at Mr. Gammon, as if he was 
hardly aware of the import of his com- 
munication. 



" No — but — is it so ? Honour 
bright ? " at length he stammered. 

" It is indeed ! My long labours 
are at length crowned with success ! — 
Hurrah, hurrah, Mr. Titmouse ! " 

"I've really won? It a'n't a joke 
or a dream ? " enquired Titmouse with 
quickly increasing excitement, and a 
joyous expression bursting over his 
features, which became suddenly 
flushed. 

' ' A joke ? — the best you'll ever have. 
A dream 1 — that will last your life. 
Thank God, Mr. Titmouse, the battle's 
ours ; we'vedefeatedall their villainy ! " 

" Tol de rol ! Tol de rol ! Tol de 
lol, lol, lol, rido ! — Ah," he added in 
a loud truculent tone, as Lord De la 
Zouch and Mr. Aubrey slowly passed 
him, — "done for you now — 'pon my 
life ! — turned the tables ! — that for 
you ! " said he, snapping his fingers ; 
but I need hardly say that he did so 
with perfect impunity as far as those 
two gentlemen were concerned, who 
were so absorbed with the grievous 
event which had just happened, as 
scarcely to be aware of their being 
addressed at all. 

' ' Aubrey, it's against you ■ — all is 
lost ; the verdict is for the plaintiff! " 
said Lord De la Zouch in a hurried 
agitated whisper, as he grasped the 
hand of Mr. Aubrey, whom he had 
quitted for an instant to hear the 
verdict pronounced. Mr. Aubrey for 
some moments spoke not. 

"God's will be done!" at length 
said he in a low tone, or rather in a 
faint murmur. More than a dozen 
gentlemen, who came crowding out, 
grasped his hand with great energy 
and vehemence. 

" God bless you, Aubrey ! God bless 
you ! " — said several voices, their 
speakers wringing his hand with great 
vehemence as they spoke. 

"Let us go," — said Lord De la 
Zouch, putting Mr. Aubrey's arm in 
his own, and leading him away from 
a scene of distressing excitement, too 
powerful for his exhausted feelings. 

"I am nothing of a fatalist," said 
Mr. Aubrey, after a pause of some 
minutes, during which they had quitted 
the castle-gates, and his feelings had 



240 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



recovered from the shock which they 
had just before suffered ; — "I am no- 
thing of a fatalist, but I ought not to 
feel the least surprise at this issue, for 
I have long had a settled conviction 
that such would be the issue. For 
some time before I had the least inti- 
mation of the commencement of these 
proceedings, I was oppressed by a sense 
of impending calamity " 

" Well, that may be so ; but it does 
not follow that the mischief is finally 
done." 

"I am certain of it! — But, dear 
Lord De la Zouch, how much I owe 
to your kindness and sympathy ! " said 
Mr. Aubrey with a slight tremor in 
his voice. 

"We are at this moment, Aubrey, 
firmer friends than we ever were before. 
So help me Heaven ! I would not lose 
your friendship for the world ; I feel 
it a greater honour than I am worthy 
of — I do, indeed," said Lord De la 
Zouch with great emotion. 

"There's a great gulf between us 
though, Lord De la Zouch, as far as 
worldly circumstances are concerned 
— you a peer of the realm, I a beggar." 

" Forgive me, Aubrey, but it is idle 
to talk in that way ; I am hurt beyond 
measure at your supposing it possible 
that under any circumstances " 

"Believe me, I feel the full value 
of your friendship — more valuable at 
this moment than ever." 

" That a serious calamity has fallen 
upon you is certain ; — which of us, 
indeed, is safe from such a calamity ? 
But who would bear it with the calm 
fortitude which you have already 
evinced, my dear Aubrey ?" 

"You speak very kindly, Lord De 
la Zouch ; 1 trust I shall play the man, 
now that the time for playing a man's 
part has come," said Mr. Aubrey with 
an air of mingled melancholy and 
resolution. "I feel an inexpressible 
consolation in the reflection, that I 
cannot charge myself with anything 
unconscientious ; and, as for the future, 
I put my trust in God. I feel as if I 
could submit to the will of Heaven 
with cheerfulness " 

"Don't speak so despondingly, 
Aubrey " 



"Despondingly?" echoed Mr. An- 

,brey with momentary animation — 
"Despondingly? My dear friend, I 
feel as if I were indeed entering a scene 
black as midnight — but what is it to 
the -valley of the shadow of death, dear 
Lord De la Zouch, which is before all 
of us, and at but a little distance ! I 
assure you I feel no vain-glorious confi- 
dence ; yet I seem to be leaning on the 
arm of an unseen but all-powerful 
supporter ! " 

" You are a hero, my dear Aubrey ! " 
exclaimed Lord De la Zouch with 
sudden fervour. 

"And that support will embrace 
those dearer to me than life — dearer — 

far — far" He ceased: his feelings 

quite overcame him, and they walked 
on for some time in silence. Soon 
afterwards they parted — for Lord De 
la Zouch perceived that his unfortun- 
ate companion wished to be alone. He 
wrung Mr. Aubrey's hands in silence ; 
and having turned in' the direction of 
his hotel, Mr. Aubrey made for his 
lodgings. The streets were occupied 
by passengers, some returning from the 
castle after the great trial of the day ; 
others standing here and there, in little 
knots, conversing as he passed them ; 
and he felt conscious that the subject 
of their thoughts and conversation, was 
himself and his fallen fortunes. Several 
deep-drawn sighs escaped him, as he 
walked on, the herald of such dismal 
tidings, to those whom he loved : and 
he felt but for that which supported 
him from within, as it were, a fallen 
angel so far as concerned this world's 
honours and greatness. The splendours 
of human pomp and prosperity seemed 
rapidly vanishing in the distance. In 
the temporary depression of his spirits, 
he experienced feelings somewhat akin 
to those of the heart-sickened exile, 
whose fond eyes are riveted upon the 
mosques and minarets of his native 
city, bathed in the soft sunlight of 
evening, where are the cherished 
objects of all his tenderest thoughts 
and feelings ; while his vessel is rapidly 
bearing him from it, amid the rising 
wind, the increasing and ominous swell 
of the waters, the thickening gloom of 
night— whither ? The Minster clock 



TEX THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



241 



struck ten as he passed one of the 
corners of the vast majestic structure, 
^ley-glistening in the faint moonlight. 
The melodious chimes echoed in his 
ear, and smote his subdued soul with a 
sense of peculiar solemnity and awe ; 
they forced upon him a reflection upon 
the transient littleness of earthly 
things. Then he thought of those 
dear beings who were awaiting his re- 
turn, and a gush of grief and tender- 
ness overflowed his heart, as he 
quickened his steps, with an inward 
and fervent prayer that Heaven would 
support them under the misfortune 
which had befallen them. As he neared 
the retired row of houses where his 
lodgings were situated, he imagined 
that he saw some one near the door of 
his lodgings, as if on the look-out for 
his approach ; and who, as he drew 
nearer, at length entered his lodgings. 
This was a person whom Mr. Aubrey 
did not at all suspect — it was his 
worthy friend Dr. Tatham ; who, un- 
able to quit Yatton in time to hear the 
trial, had early that morning mounted 
his horse, and, after a long and hard 
ride, reached York soon after Mr. 
Aubrey had set off for the castle. 
Though many of the country people 
then in York were aware that Mrs. 
and Miss Aubrey were also there, a 
delicate consideration for their exqui- 
sitely distressing situation restrained 
them from intruding upon their pri- 
vacy, which had been evidently sought 
for by the species of lodgings which Mr. 
Aubrey had engaged. On the second 
day, the excellent Dr. Tatham had 
been their welcome and instructive 
guest, scarce ever leaving them ; Mr. 
Aubrey's groom bringing word, from 
time to time, from his master how the 
trial went on. Late in the evening, 
urged by Kate, the doctor had gone off 
to the castle, to wait till he could bring 
intelligence of the final result of the 
t:ial. He had not been observed by 
Mr. Aubrey amidst the number of 
people who were about ; and had at 
length fulfilled his mission, and been 
beforehand with Mr. Aubrey in com- 
municating the unfortunate issue of 
the struggle. The instant that Mr. 
Aubrey had set his foot within the 



door, he was locked in the impassioned 
embrace of his wife and sister. None 
of them spoke for some moments. 

"Dearest Charles ! — we've heard it 
all — we know it all ! " at length they 
exclaimed in a breath. " Thank God, 
it is over at last — and we know 
the worst ! — Are you well, dearest 
Charles ? " enquired Mrs. Aubrey with 
fond anxiety. 

" Thank God, my Agnes, I am 
well ! " said Mr. Aubrey, much ex- 
cited — "and thank God that the 
dreadful suspense is at an end ; and 
for the fortitude, my sweet loves, with 
which you bear the result. And how 
are you, my excellent friend ? " con- 
tinued he, addressing Dr. Tatham, 
and grasping his hands; "my vener- 
able and pious friend — how it refreshes 
my heart to see you ! as one of the 
chosen ministers of that God whose 
creatures we are, and whose dispen- 
sations we receive with reverent sub- 
mission ! " 

"God Almighty bless you all, my 
dear friei:ds ! " replied Dr. Tatham, 
powerfully affected. ' ' Believe that all 
this is from Him ! He has wise ends 
in view, though we see not nor com- 
prehend them ! Faint not when ye are 
rebuked of Him ! If ye faint in the 
day of adversity, your strength is small! 
But I rejoice to see your resignation ! " 
— Aubrey, his wife, and sister, were 
for a while overcome with their 
emotions. <, 

"I assure you all," said Aubrey, 
" I feel as if a very mountain had 
been lifted off my heart ! How blessed 
am I in such a wife and sister ! " A 
heavenly smile irradiated his pale 
features — and he clasped his wife and 
then his sister in his arms. They 
wept as they tenderly returned his 
embrace. 

"Heaven," said he, "that gave us 
all, has taken all : why should we 
murmur ? He will enable us, if we 
pray for his assistance, to bear with 
equanimity our present adversity, as 
well as our past prosperity ! Come, 
Agnes ! Kate ! play the woman ! " ' 

Dr. Tatham sat silent by ; but the 
tears ran down his cheeks. At length 
Mr. Aubrey gave them a general 



242 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



account of what had occurred at the 
trial — and which, I need hardly say, 
was listened to in breathless silence. 

"Who is that letter from, love, 
lying on the table ? " enquired Mr. 
Aubrey, during a pause in the con- 
versation. 

"It's only from Johnson — dearest ! 
to say the children are quite well," re- 
plied Mrs. Aubrey. The ruined parents, 
as if by a common impulse, looked un- 
utterable things at each other. Then 
the mother turned deadly pale ; and 
her husband tenderly kissed her cold 
cheek ; while Kate could scarcely re- 
strain her feelings. The excitement of 
each was beginning to give way before 
sheer bodily and mental exhaustion ; 
and Dr. Tatham, observing it, rose to 
take his departure. It was arranged 
that the carriage should be at the door 
by eight o'clock in the morning, to 
convey them back to Yatton — and that 
Dr. Tatham should breakfast with, and 
then accompany them on horseback. 
He then took his departure for the 
night, with a very full heart ; and those 
whom he left soon afterwards retired 
for the night ; and having first invoked 
the mercy and pity of Heaven, sank 
into slumber and brief forgetfulness of 
the perilous position in which they 
had been placed by the event of the 
day. 

Somewhat different was the mode in 
which the night was spent by the vic- 
torious party. Gammon, as has b^en 
seen, was the first to congratulate Tit- 
mouse on his splendid success. The 
next was old Quirk — who, with a sort 
of conviction that he should find Gam- 
mon beforehand with him — bustled 
out of court, leaving Snap to pay the 
jury, settle the court-fees, collect the 
papers, and so forth. Both Quirk and 
Snap (as soon as he was at liberty) 
exhibited a courtesy towards Titmouse 
which had a strong dash of reverence 
in it, such as was due to the possessor 
of ten thousand a-year ; but Gammon 
exhibited the tranquil matter-of-fact 
confidence of a man who had deter- 
mined to be, and indeed knew that he 
was, the entire master of Titmouse. 
^ " I — wish you'd call a coach, or 
something of that sort, gents.— I'm 



devilish tired — I am, 'pon my soul ! " 
said Mr. Titmouse yawning, as he 
stood on the steps between Quirk and 
Gammon, waiting for Snap's arrival. 
He was, in fact, almost mad — bursting 
with excitement ; and could not stand 
still for a moment. Now he whistled 
loudly and boldly ; then he hummed 
a bar or two of some low comic song ; 
and ever and anon drew on and off his 
damp gloves with an air of petulant 
impetuosity. Now he ran his hand 
through his hair with careless grace ; 
and then, with arms folded on his 
breast for a moment, looked eagerly, 
but with a would-be languid air, at 
two or three elegant equipages, which 
one by one, with their depressed and 
disappointed inmates, rolled off. At 
length Lord Widdrington, amidst a 
sharp impetuous cry of " Make way for 
the judge there — make way for his 
lordship ! "appeared in his robes, with 
a wearied air ; and passing close by 
Titmouse, was honoured by him with 
a very fine bow indeed — not being, 
however, in the least aware of the fact 
— as he passed on to his carriage. The 
steps were drawn up ; the door was 
closed ; and amidst a sharp blast of 
trumpets, the carriage drove slowly 
off, preceded and followed by the usual 
attendants. All this pomp and cere- 
mony made a very deep impression 
upon the mind of Titmouse. "Ah," 
thought he, with a sudden sigh of 
mingled excitement and exhaustion — 
"who knows but /may be a judge 
some day ? It's a devilish pleasant 
thing, I'm sure ! What a fuss he must 
make wherever he goes ! 'Pon my 
life, quite delightful ! " As there was 
no coach to be had, Mr. Titmouse was 
forced to walk home, arm-in-arm with 
Mr. Quirk and Mr. Gammon, and fol- 
lowed, at a little distance, by a knot 
of persons, acquainted with his name 
and person, and feeling towards him a 
strange mixture of emotions — dislike, 
wonder, contempt, admiration. Good- 
ness gracious ! that strange little gen- 
tleman was now worth, it was said, 
ten thousand a-year ; and was squire 
of Yatton ! ! Old Quirk shook Tit- 
mouse's hand with irrepressible en- 
thusiasm, at least a dozen times on 



TKN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



243 



their way to the inn ; while Gammon 
now and then squeezed his aim, and 
spoke, in an earnest tone, of the diffi- 
culties yet to be overcome. On reach- 
ing the inn, the landlady, who was 
standing at the door, and had evidently 
been on the look-out for her suddenly 
distinguished guest, received him with 
several most profound curtsies, and 
most eager and respectful enquiries 
about his health, as he had had no 
luncheon — and asking what he would 
be pleased to have for his supper. 
She added, moreover, that fearing his 
former bedroom might not have been 
to his mind, she had changed it, and 
he would that night sleep in the very 
best she had. 

"We must make' a night on't, eh ?" 
quoth Sir. Quirk, with an excited air. 
His partners assented to it, as did Mr. 
Titmouse ; and cold beef, sausages, 
fowl, ham, beef-steaks, and mutton- 
chops, were ordered to be in readiness 
in half-an-hour's time. Soon after- 
wards Mr. Titmouse followed the 
chambermaid to his new bedroom. 

" This is the room we always give 
to quality folk — when we get them," 
said she, as she set his candle on 
the drawers, and looked with a little 
triumph round the room. 

" Ah — yes ! — 'pon my soul — quite 
right — always do your best for quality ! 
— Lovely gal — eh ? " Here he chucked 
her under the chin, and seemed dis- 
posed to imprint a kiss upon her 
cheek : but, with a "Lord, sir — that's 
not the way quality folks behave ! " 
she modestly withdrew. Titmouse, 
left alone, first threw himself on the 
bed ; then started off, and walked 
about ; then sat down ; then danced 
about ; then took off his coat ; then 
threw himself on the bed again ; 
hummed, whistled', jumped up again 
— in a sort of wild ecstasj', or delirium. 
In short, it is plain that he was not 
master of himself. In fact, his little 
mind was as agitated by the day's 
event, as a small green puddle by the 
roadside for a while would be on a 
stone being suddenly flung into it by 
a child. While Messrs. Quirk and 
Snap were, after their sort, as excited 
as even Mr. Titmouse was, Gammon, 



retiring to his bed room, and ordering 
thither pens, ink, and paper, sat down 
and wrote the following letter : — 

"York, 5th April, 18— 
"My dear Sir, — The very first 
leisure moment I have, I devote to 
informing you, as one of the most 
intimate friends of our highly re- 
spected client, Mr. Titmouse, of the 
brilliant event which has just oc- 
curred. After a most severe and pro- 
tracted struggle of two days, (the 
Attorney-General having come down 
special on the other side,) the jury, 
many of them the chief gentlemen of 
the county, have within this last hour 
returned a verdict in favour of our 
common friend, Mr. Titmouse — there- 
by declaring him entitled to the whole 
of the estates at Yatton, (ten thousand 
a-year rent-roll, at least,) and, by 
consequence, to an immense accumu- 
lation of bygone rents^ which must be 
made up to him by his predecessor, 
who, with all his powerful party, and 
in spite of the unscrupulous means 
resorted to to defeat the ends of justice, 
is dismaiyed beyond expression at the 
result of this grand struggle — unpre- 
cedented in the annals of modern liti- 
gation. The result has given lively 
satisfaction in these parts — it is 
plain that our friend Mr. Titmouse 
will very soon become a great lion in 
society. 

"To you, my dear sir, as an early 
and valued friend of our interesting 
client, I sit down to communicate the 
earliest intelligence of this most im- 
portant event ; and I trust that you 
will, with our respectful compliments, 
communicate this happy event to 
your amiable family — who, I am per- 
suaded, must ever feel a very warm 
interest in our client's welfare. He 
is now, naturally enough, much 
excited with his extraordinary good 
fortune, to which we are only too 
proud and happy to have contributed 
by our humble, but strenuous and 
long-continued exertions. He begs 
me to express his most cordial feelings' 
towards you, and to say that, on his 
return to town, Satin Lodge will be 
one of the very first places at which 

R 2 



244 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAH. 



he will call. In the mean time, I beg 
you will believe me, my dear sir, with 
the best compliments of myself and 
partners, yours most sincerely, 

"Oily Gammon. 
"Thomas Tag-Bag, Esq. 
&c. &c. &c." 

"That, I think, will about do"— 
quoth Gammon to himself, with a 
thoughtful air, as, having made an 
exact copy of the above letter, he 
sealed it up and directed it. He then 
came down-stairs to supper, having 
first sent the letter off to the post- 
office. What a merry meal was that 
same supper ! Mr. Titmouse, Mr. 
Quirk, and Mr. Snap, ate almost to 
bursting : Gammon was more absti- 
nent — but overpowered by the impor- 
tunities of his companions, took a far 
greater quantity than usual of the 
bouncing bottled porter, the hard port, 
and fiery sherry, which his companions 
drank as if they had been but water. 
Then came in the spirits — with hot 
water and cold ; and to these all 
present did ample justice ; in fact, it 
was very hard for any one to resist 
the other's entreaties. — Mr. Gammon 
in due time felt himself going — but 
seemed as if, on such an occasion, he 
had no help for it. Every one of the 
partners, at different stages of the 
evening, made a speech to Titmouse, 
and proposed his health ; who, of 
course, replied to each, and drank the 
health of each. Presently old Quirk 
sang a comic song, in a very dismal 
key ; and then he and Snap joined in 
one called "Handcuff v. Halter ;" at 
which Gammon laughed heartily, and 
listened with that degree of pleased 
attention, which showed that he had 
resolved, for once at least, to abandon 
himself to the enjoyment of the pass- 
ing hour. Then Titmouse began to 
speak of what he should do, as soon 
as he had "touched the shiners" — 
his companions entering into all his 
little schemes with a sort of affection- 
ate enthusiasm. At length old Mr. 
Quirk, after by turns laughing, crying, 
singing, and talking, leaned back in 
his chair, with his half-emptied tumbler 
of brandy and water in his hand, and 



fell fast asleep. Gammon also, in 
spite of all he could do, began — the 
deuce take it! — to feel and exhibit the 
effects of a hasty and hearty meal, and 
his very unusual potations, especially 
after such long abstinence and intense 
anxiety as he had experienced during 
the previous two days. He had in- 
tended to have seen them all under 
the table ; but he began gradually to 
feel a want of control over himself, 
his thoughts, and feelings, which a 
little disquieted him, as he now and 
then caught glimpses of the extent to 
which it was proceeding. "In vino 
Veritas," properly translated, means — 
that when a man is fairly under the 
influence of liquor, you see a strong 
manifestation of his real character. 
The vain man is vainer ; the voluble, 
more voluble ; the morose, more mo- 
rose ; the passionate, more passionate ; 
the detractor, more detracting ; the 
sycophant, more sycophantic, and so 
forth. Now Mr. Gammon was a cold, 
cautious, long-headed schemer ; and as 
the fumes of liquor mounted up into 
his head, they only increased the action 
and intensity of those qualities for 
which, when sober, he was so pre- 
eminently distinguished, only that 
there was a half-conscious want of 
coherency and subordination. The 
impulse and the habit were present ; 
but there seemed a strange disturbing 
force : in short — what is the use of 
disguising matters ? — Mr. Gammon 
was getting very drunk ; and he felt 
very sorry for it — but it was too late. 
In due time the dismal effort not to 
ci'ji'pcar drunk, ceased — a great relief ! 
Silent and more silent he became ; 
more and more observant of the mo- 
tions of Snap and Titmouse ; more 
and more complicated and profound 
in his schemes and purposes ; and at 
length he felt as if, by some incom- 
prehensible means, he were taking 
himself in — inveigling himself : at 
which point, after a vain attempt to 
understand his exact position with 
reference to himself, he slowly, but 
rather unsteadily, rose from his chair ; 
looked with an unsettled eye at Tit- 
mouse for nearly a minute ; a queer 
smile now and then flitted across his 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



215 



features ; and he presently rang the 
bell. Boots having obeyed the sum- 
mons, Gammon with a very turbid 
brain followed him to the door, with 
a most desperate effort to walk thither 
steadily — but in vain. Having reached 
his room, he sat down with a sort of 
suspicion that he had said or done 
.something to commit himself. Vain 
was the attempt to wind up his watch ; 
and at length he gave it up, with a 
faint curse. With only one stocking 
off, conceiving himself to be un- 
dressed, after four or five times trying 
to blow out his candle in vain, he 
succeeded and got into bed ; his head, 
however, occupying the place in the 
lvd assigned to his feet. He lay asleep 
for about half-an-hour — and then ex- 
perienced certain insupportable sensa- 
tions. He was indeed very miserable ; 
and lost all thoughts of what would 
become of Titmouse — of Quirk and 
Snap — in his own indisposition. 

"I say, Snap," quoth Titmouse 
with a grin, and putting his finger 
to his nose, as soon as Gammon had 
quitted the room in the manner above 
described — "Mr. Quirk a'n't much 
company for us just now, eh ? Shall 
we go out and have some fun ? " 

"Walk will do us good — yes. Go 
where you like, Titmouse," replied 
Snap, who, though young, was a 
thoroughly seasoned vessel, and could 
hold a great deal of drink without 
seeming, or really being much the 
worse for it. As for Titmouse, hap- 
pily for him ! (seeing that he was so 
soon to have the command of un- 
limited means, unless indeed the en- 
vious fates should in the mean time 
interpose to dash the brimful cup 
from his eager lips, ) he was becoming 
more and more accustomed to the 
effects of drink ; which had, up to 
the moment I am speaking of, no 
other effect than to elevate his spirits 
up to the pitch of indefinite daring 
and enterprise. "'Pon my life, Snap, 
louldn't we stand another tumbler — 
eh ? Warm us for the night air ? " 
"What shall it be?" quoth Snap, 
ringing the bell — " whisky ? " 

"Devil knows, and devil cares!" 
replied Mr. Titmouse recklessly ; and 



presently there stood before the friends 
two steaming tumblers of what they 
had ordered. Immediately after dis- 
posing of them, the two gentlemen, 
quite up to the mark, as they expressed 
it — each with a cigar in his mouth — 
sallied forth in quest of adventures. 
Titmouse felt that he had now become 
a gentleman ; and his taste and feel- 
ings prompted him to pursue, as early as 
possible, a gentlemanly line of conduct 
— particularly in his amusements. It 
was now past twelve ; and the narrow 
old-fashioned streets of York, silent 
and deserted, formed a strong contrast 
to the streets of London at the same 
hour, and seemed scarcely to admit of 
much sport. But sport our friends 
were determined to have ; and the 
night air aiding the effect of their mis- 
cellaneous potations, they soon became 
somewhat excited and violent. Yet 
it seemed difficult to get up a row — 
for no one was visible in any direction. 
Snap, however, by way of making a 
beginning, suddenly shouted " Fire ! " 
at the top of his voice, and Titmouse 
joined him ; when having heard half- 
a-dozen windows hastily thrown up by 
the dismayed inhabitants whom the 
alarming sounds had aroused from 
sleep, they scampered off at their top 
speed. In another part of the town, 
they yelled, and whistled, and crowed 
like cocks, and mewed like cats — the 
last two being accomplishments in 
which Titmouse was very eminent — ■ 
and again took to their heels. Then 
they contrived to twist a few knockers 
off doors, pull bells, and break a few 
windows ; and while exercising their 
skill in this last branch of the night's 
amusement, Titmouse, in the very act 
of aiming a stone which took effect in 
the middle of a bed-room window, was 
surprised by an old watchman waddling 
round the corner. He was a feeble 
asthmatic old man ; so Snap knocked 
him down at once, and Titmouse blew 
out the candle in his lantern, which 
he then jumped upon and smashed to 
pieces, and knocked its prostrate 
owner's hat over his eyes. Snap, on 
some strange unaccountable impulse, 
wrested the rattle out of the poor 
creature's hand, and sprang it loudly. 



246 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



This brought several other old watch- 
men from different quarters ; and aged 
numbers prevailing against youthful 
spirit — the two gentlemen, after a con- 
siderable scuffle, were overpowered and 
conveyed to the cage. Snap having 
muttered something about demanding 
to look at the warrant, and then about 
a malicious arrest and false imprison- 
ment, sank on a form, and then down 
upon the floor, and fell fast asleep. 
Titmouse for a while showed a very 
resolute front, and swore a great many 
oaths, that he would fight the Boots 
at the inn for five shillings, if he dared 
show himself ; but all of a sudden, 
his spirit collapsed, as it were, and he 
sank on the floor, and was grievously 
indisposed for some hours. About 
nine o'clock, the contents of the cage 
— viz. Snap, Titmouse, two farmers' 
boys who had been caught stealing 
cakes, an old beggar, and a young 
pickpocket — were conveyed before the 
Lord Mayor, to answer for their several 
misdeeds. Snap was woefully crest- 
fallen. He had sent for the landlord 
of the inn where they had put up, to 
come, on their behalf, .to the Mansion- 
House ; but he told (Juirjc of the mes- 
sage he had received. Mr. Quirk, 
finding that Gammon could not have 
his room through severe indisposition 
— the very first time that Mr. Quirk 
had ever seen or heard of his being so 
overtaken — set off, in a very mortified 
and angry mood, in quest of his hope- 
ful client and junior partner. They 
were in a truly dismal pickle. Tit- 
mouse, pale as death, his clothes dis- j 
ordered, and one of his shirt- collars 
torn oil'; Snap sat beside him with a 
sheepish air, looking as if he could 
hardly keep his eyes open. At him 
Mr. Quirk looked with keen indigna- 
tion, but spoke -not to him nor for 
him : for Titmouse, however, he ex- 
pressed great commiseration, and en- 
treated his lordship to overlook the 
little misconduct of which he (Tit- 
mouse) in a moment of extreme excite- 
ment, had been guilty, on condition 
of his making amends for the injury, 
both to person and property, of which 
he had been guilty. By this time his 
lordship had become aware of the 



names and circumstances of the two 
delinquent ; and, after lecturing them 
very severely, he fined them five shil- 
lings a-piece for being drunk, and per- 
mitted them to be discharged, on their 
promising never to offend in the like, 
way again, and paying three pounds 
by way of compensation to the watch- 
man, and one or two persons whose 
knockers they were proved to have 
wrenched off, and windows to have 
broken. His lordship had delayed 
the case of Messrs. Snap and Titmouse 
to the last ; chiefly because, as soon as 
he had found out who Mr. Titmouse 
was, it occurred to him that he would 
make a sort of little star at the great 
ball to be given by the Lady Mayoress 
that evening. As soon, therefore, as 
the charge had been disposed of, his 
lordship desired Mr. Titmouse to follow 
him, for a moment, to his private room. 
There, having shut the door, he gently 
chided. Mr. Titmouse for the indiscre- 
tion of which he had been guilty, and 
of which it was not to have been ex- 
pected that a gentleman of his conse- 
quence in the county would be guilty. 
His lordship begged him to consider 
the station which he was now called 
to occupy ; and, in alluding to the 
signal event of the preceding day, 
warmly congratulated him upon it : 
and, by the way, his lordship trusted 
that Mr. Titmouse would, in the 
evening, favour the Lady Mayoress 
and himself with his company at the 
ball, where they would be very proud 
| of the opportunity of introducing him 
to some of the gentry of the county, 
amongst whom his future lot in life 
was likely to be cast. Mr. Titmouse 
listened to all this as if he were in a 
dream. His brain (the little of it that 
he had) was yet in a most unsettled 
state ; as also was his stomach. When 
he heard the words " Lady Mayoress," 
"ball," "mansion-house," "gentry 'of 
the county, " and so forth, a dim vision 
of splendour flashed before his eyes • 
and, with a desperate effort, he assured 
the Lord Mayor that he should be 
very uncommon proud to accept the 
invitation, if he were well enough 
—but just then he was uncommon 
ill. 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



247 



His lordship pressed him to take a 
glass of water, to revive him and 
settle his stomach ; hut Mr. Titmouse 
declined it, and soon afterwards quitted 
the room ; and, leaning on the arm of 
Mr. Quirk, set oil' homeward — Snap 
walking beside him in silence, with a 
very quaint disconcerted air — not being 
taken the least notice of by Mr. 
Quirk. As they passed along, they 
encountered several of the barristers 
on their way to court, and others, 
who recognized Titmouse ; and with a 
smile, evidently formed a pretty ac- 
curate guess as to the manner in which 
the triumph of the preceding day had 
been celebrated. Mr. Quirk, finding 
that Mr. Gammon was far too much 
indisposed to think of quitting York, 
at all events till a late hour in the 
evening, and, indeed, that Titmouse 
was similarly situated — with a very 
bad grace consented to them stopping 
behind ; and himself, with Snap — the 
former inside, the latter outside — 
having settled with most of the wit- 
nesses, leaving the remainder, with 
their own expenses at the inn, to be 
settled by Mr. Gammon — set off for 
town by the two o'clock coach. It 
was, indeed, high time for them to 
return ; for the oppressed inmates of 
Newgate were getting wild on account 
of the protracted absence of their 
kind and confidential advisers. When 
they left, both Gammon and Titmouse 
were in bed. The former, however, 
began to revive, shortly after the 
coach which conveyed away his re- 
spected co-partners, and the guard's 
horn had ceased to be heard ; and 
about an hour afterwards he descended 
from his room, a great deal the better 
for the duties of the toilette, and a 
bottle of soda-water with a little 
brandy in it. A cup of strong tea, 
and a slice or two of dry toast, set 
him entirely to rights, — and then 
Gammon — the calm, serene, astute 
Gammon — was ' ' himself again. " Had 
he said anything indiscreet, or in any 
way committed himself, overnight ? — 
thought he, as he sat alone, with 
folded arms, trying to recollect what 
had taken place. He hoped not — but 
had no means of ascertaining. Then 



he entered upon a long and anxious 
consideration of the position of affairs, 
since the great event of the preceding 
evening. The only definite object 
which he had had in view, personally, 
in entering into the affair, was trie 
obtaining that ascendancy over Tit- 
mouse, in the event of his becoming 
possessed of the magnificent fortune 
they were in quest of for him, which 
might enable him, in one way or 
another, to elevate his own position in 
society, and secure for himself per- 
manent and solid advantages. In 
the progress of the affair, however, new 
views presented themselves to his mind. 

Towards the close of the after- 
noon Titmouse recovered sufficiently 
to make his appearance down-stairs. 
Soon afterwards, Gammon proposed a 
walk, as the day was fine, and the 
brisk fresh country air would be 
efficacious in restoring Titmouse to his 
wonted health and spirits. His sug- 
gestion was adopted ; and soon after- 
wards might have been seen, Gammon, 
supporting on his arm his languid 
and interesting client Mr. Titmouse, 
making their Way to the river ; along 
whose quiet and pleasing banks they 
walked for nearly a couple of hours 
in close conversation ; during which, 
Gammon, by repeated and various 
efforts succeeded in producing an im- 
pression on Titmouse's mind, that 
the good fortune which seemed now 
within his reach, had been secured 
for him by the enterprise, skill, and 
caution of one, Mr. Gammon, only ; 
who would, moreover, continue to 
devote himself to Mr. Titmouse's in- 
terest, and protect him from the 
designs of those who would endeavour 
to take advantage of him. Mr. Gam- 
mon also dropped one or two vague 
hints that his — Titmouse's — con- 
tinuance in the enjoyment of the 
Yatton property, would always depend 
upon the will and power of him, the 
aforesaid Gammon ; in whose hands 
were most unsuspected, but potent 
weapons. And indeed it is not at all 
impossible that such may prove to be 
really the case. 

What a difference is there between 
man and man, in temper, and dis- 



248 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



position, and intellect ! Compare 
together the two individuals now 
walking slowly, arm-in-arm, beside 
the sweet Ouse ; and supposing one 
to have designs upon the other — 
disposed to ensnare and overreach him 
— what chance has the shorter gentle- 
man ? Compare even their counten- 
ances — what a difference ! 

Gammon heard with uneasiness of 
Titmouse's intention to go to the Lady- 
Mayoress's ball that evening ; and, for 
many reasons, resolved that he should 
not. In vain, however, did Gammon 
try to persuade him that he was asked 
only to be turned into ridicule, for 
that almost everybody there would be 
in the interest of the Aubreys, and 
bitterly opposed to him, Mr. Titmouse ; 
in spite of these and all other re- 
presentations, Titmouse expressed his 
determination to go to the ball : on 
which Gammon, with a good-natured 
smile, exclaimed, "Well, well!" — 
and withdrew his opposition. Shortly 
after their return from their walk, 
they sat down to dinner ; and Gammon, 
with a cheerful air, ordered a bottle of 
champagne, of which he drank about 
a glass and a half, and Titmouse the 
remainder. That put him into a 
humour to take more wine, without 
much pressing ; and he swallowed, in 
rapid succession, a glass of ale, and 
seven or eight glasses of port and 
sherry. By this time he had forgotten 
all about the ball, and clamoured for 
brandy and water. Gammon, however, 
saw that his end was answered. Poor 
Titmouse was becoming rapidly more 
and more helpless ; and within half- 
an-hour's time was assisted to his 
bed-room in a very sad state. Thus 
Gammon had the satisfaction of seeing 
his benevolent design accomplished, 
although it pained him to think of the 
temporary inconvenience occasioned to 
the unconscious sufferer ; who had, 
however, escaped the devices of those 
who wished publicly to expose his in- 
experience ; and as for the means which 
Gammon had resorted to in order to 
effect his purpose, — why, he may be 
supposed to have had a remoter object 
in view, viz. early to disgust him with 
intemperance. 



Alas ! how disappointed were the 
Mayor and Mayoress, that their queer 
little lion did not make his appearance 
in the gay and brilliant scene ! How 
many had they told that he was 
coming ! The three daughters were 
almost bursting with vexation and 
astonishment. They had been disposed 
to entertain a warmer feeling than that 
of mere curiosity towards the new 
owner of an estate worth ten thousand 
a-year — had drawn lots which of them 
was first to dance with him ; and had 
told all their friends on which of them 
the lot had fallen : Then, again, many 
of the county people enquired, from 
time to time, of the chagrined little 
mayor and mayoress, when " Mr. 
Ticklemouse, " "Mr. Tipmouse," "Mr. 
Tipplebattle," or " whatever his name 
might be," was coming; full of real 
curiosity, much tinctured, however, 
with disgust and contempt, to see the 
stranger, who had suddenly acquired so 
commanding a station in the county, 
so strong a claim to their sympathy 
and respect. 

Then, again, there was a very great 
lion there, exhibiting for a short time 
only, who also wished to see the little 
lion, and expressed keen regrets that 
it was not there according to appoint- 
ment. The great lion was Mr. Quick- 
silver, who had stepped in for about 
half-an-hour, merely to show himself ; 
and when he heard of the expected 
arrival of his little client, it occurred 
to Mr. Quicksilver, who could see 
several inches beyond by no means a 
short nose, that Mr. Titmouse had 
gained a verdict which would very 
soon make him patron of the borough 
of Yatton — that he probably would 
not think of sitting for the borough 
himself, and that a little public civilily 
bestowed upon Mr. Titmouse, by the 
great Mr. Quicksilver, one of the 
counsel to whose splendid exertions 
he was indebted for his all, might be, 
as it were, bread thrown upon the 
waters, to be found after many days. 
It was true that Mr. Quicksilver, in a 
bitter stream of eloquent invective, 
had repeatedly denounced the system 
of close and rotten boroughs ; but his 
heart, all the while, secretly rebelled ; 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



249 



and he knew that a snug borough was 
a thing on every account not to be 
sneezed at. He sat for one himself, 
though he had also contested several 
counties : but that was expensive and 
harassing work ; and the borough for 
which he at present sat, he had paid 
far too high a price for. He had no 
objection to the existence of close 
boroughs ; but only to so many of 
them being in the hands of the oppo- 
site party ; and the legislature hath 
since recognized tbe distinction, and 
acted upon it. Here, however, was 
the case of a borough which was going 
to change hands, and pass from Tory 
to Whig ; and could Mr. Quicksilver 
fail to watch it with interest. Was 
he, therefore, to neglect this oppor- 
tunity of slipping in for Yatton — and 
the straio moving, too, in town — a 
general election looked for ? So Mr. 
Quicksilver really regretted the absence 
of his little friend and client, Mr. 
Titmouse. 

Thus, and by such persons, and on 
such grounds, was lamented the ab- 
sence of Mr. Titmouse from the ball of 
the Lady Mayoress of York ; none, 
however, knowing the cause which 
kept him from so select and dis- 
tinguished an assembly. As soon as 
Mr. Gammon had seen him properly 
attended to, and expressed an anxious 
sympathy for him, he set out for a 
walk — a quiet solitary walk round the 
ancient walls of York. If on a fin„ 
night you look up into the sky, and 
see it gleaming with innumerable stars, 
and then fix your eye intently, without 
wavering, upon some one star ; how- 
ever vivid and brillia'ht may be those 
in its immediate vicinity, they will 
disappear utterly, and that on which 
your eye is fixed will seem alone in its 
glory — sole star in the firmament. 
Something of this kind happened with 
Mr. Gammon when on the walls of 
York — now slowly, then rapidly walk- 
ing, now standing, then sitting ; all 
the objects which generally occupied 
his thoughts faded away, before one 
on which his mind's eye was then 
fixed with unwavering intensity — the 
vi.-age of Miss Aubrey. The golden 
fruit that was on the eve of dropping 



into the hands of the firm — ten thou- 
sand pounds — the indefinite and varied 
advantages to himself, personally, to 
which their recent successes might be 
turned, all vanished. What would 
he not undergo, what would he not 
sacrifice, to secure the favour of Miss 
Aubrey ? Beautiful being — all inno- 
cence, elegance, refinement ; — to pos- 
sess her would elevate him in the scale 
of being ; it would purify his feelings, 
it would ennoble his nature. What 
was too arduous or desperate to be 
undertaken to secure a prize so glorious 
as this ? He fell into a long reverie, 
till, roused by a chill gust of night 
air, he rose from his seat upon one of 
the niches in the walls ; — how lonely, 
how solitary he felt ! He walked on 
rapidly, at a pace that suited the 
heated and rapid, current of thoughts 
that passed through his mind. 

"No, I have not a chance — not a 
chance ! " at length he thought to 
himself— "That girl will be prouder 
in her poverty, than ever she would 
have been in her wealth and splendour. 
Who am I ? — a partner in the firm of 
Quirk, Gammon, and Snap ; a firm in 
bad odour with the profession ; look- 
ing for practice from polluted sources, 
with a host of miscreants for clients — 
faugh ! faugh ! I feel contaminated 
and degraded ! My name even is 
against me ; it is growing into a by- 
word ! — We must push our advantage 
— they must be driven from Yatton — 
he, she — all of them ; yes, all." He 
paused for a long time, and a sort of 
pang passed through his mind. ' ' They 
are to make way for — Titmouse ! — for 
Titmouse ! ! And he, too, loves her— 
bah ! " He involuntarily uttered this 
sound fiercely, and aloud. " But stay 
— he really is in love with Miss Aubrey 
— that I know ; — ah ! I can turn it to 
good purpose ; it will give me, by the 
way, a hold upon the little fool ; I 
will make him believe that through 
my means he may obtain Miss Aubrey ! 
Misery may make her accessible : I 
can easily bring myself into contact 
with them, in their distress ; for th ire 
are the mesne profits — the mesne 
profits ! Heavens ! how glorious, but 
how dreadful an engine are they ! 



260 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



They will help to batter down the 
high wall of pride that surrounds them 
and her ; but it will require infinite 
,care and tact in the use of such an 
engine ! I will be all delicacy — 
gentleness — generosity ; I will appear 
friendly to her, and to her brother ; 
and, if needs must be, why he must 
be crushed. There is no help for it. 
He looks decidedly, by the way — a 
man of intellect. I wonder how he 
bears it — how they all bear it — how 
she bears it ! Beggared beauty — there's 
.something touching in the very sound ! 
How little they think of the power 
that is at this moment in my hands ! " 
Here a long interval elapsed, during 
which his thoughts had wandered to-, 
wards more practical matters. "If 
they don't get a rule nisi, next term, 
we shall be in a position to ask them 
what course they intend to pursue : 
Gad, they may, if so disposed, hold 
out for — how very cold it is ! " — he 
buttoned his coat — "and, what have 
I been thinking of? Really I have 
been dreaming ; or am I as great a 
fool as Tittlebat ? " Within a few 
minutes' time he had quitted the wal s, 
and descended, through one of the 
turreted gateways, into the town. 



CHAPTEE XV- 

When, about seven o'clock on the 
morning after the delivery of the 
verdict, which, if sustained, consigned 
the Aubreys to beggary, they met to 
partake of a slight and hasty break- 
fast before setting off for Yatton ; the 
countenances of each bore the traces of 
great suffering, and also of the efforts 
made to conceal it. They saluted each 
other with fervent affection, each at- 
tempting a smile — but a smile, how 
wan and forced ! ' ' The moment has 
arrived, dear Agnes and Kate," said 
her brother with a fond air but a firm 
voice, as his sister was preparing tea, 
in silence, fearful of looking at either 
her brother or sister-in-law ; " the 
moment has arrived that is to try 



what stuff we are made of. If we 
have any strength, this is the time to 
show it ! " 

"I'm sure I thought of you both 
almost all night long ! " replied Miss 
Aubrey tremulously. "You have a 
lion's heart, dear Charles ; and yet 
you are so gentle with us " 

" I should be a poor creature indeed, 
Kate, to give way just when I ought 
to play the man. Come, dear Kate, I 
will remind you of a noble passage 
from our glorious Shakspeare. It 
braces one's nerves to hear it ! " Then, 
with a fine impressive delivery, and 
kindling with excitement as he went 
on, Aubrey began — 

" In the reproof of chance 
Lies the true proof of men. The sea being 

smooth 
How many shallow bauble boats dare sail 
Upon her patient breast, making their way 
With those of nobler bulk ? 
But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage 
The gentle Thetis, and, anon, behold 
The strong- ribb'd bark through liquid moun- 
tains cut, 
Bounding between the two moist elements 
Like Perseus' horse ; Where's then the saucy 

boat, 
Whose weak untimber'd sides but even now 
Co-rival'd greatness ? Either to harbour fled , 
Or made a toast for Neptune ! — Even so, 
Doth valour show, and valour's worth divide, 
In storms of fortune." * 

'Twas kindly meant of Aubrey ; he 
thought to divert the excited feelings 
of his wife and sister, and occupy their 
imagination with the vivid imagery 
and noble sentiment of the poet. 
While he repeated the above lines, 
his sister's eye had been fixed upon 
him with a radiant expression of reso- 
lution, her heart responding to what 
she heard. She could not, however, 
speak when he had ceased. For her- 
self she cared not ; but when she 
looked at her brother, and thought 
of him, his wife, his children, her 
fortitude yielded before the moving 
array, and she burst into tears. 

" Come, Kate — my own sweet, good 
Kate ! " said he cheerfully, laying his 
hand upon hers, "we must keep con- 
stant guard against owe feelings. They 
will be ever arraying before our eyes 
the past — the dear, delightful past — ■ 
happy and beautiful, in mournful con- 
* Troilus and Cressida, i. 3. 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAR. 



251 



trast with the present, and stjrring up, 
every moment, a thousand secret and 
tender associations, calculated to shake 
our constancy. Whenever our eyes 
do turn to the past, let it be with 
humble gratitude to God for having 
allowed us all, in this changing world, 
so long an interval of happiness ; such, 
indeed, as falls to the lot of few. 
What! shall ice receive good at the 
hi i nd of God, and shall we not receive 
evil?" 

"My own Charles ! " exclaimed Mrs. 
Aubrey, rising and throwing her arms 
round her husband, whose countenance 
was calm and serene, as was the tone 
of the sentiments he expressed solemn 
and elevated. Miss Aubrey was over- 
come with her stronger feelings, and 
buried her face in her handkerchief. 
Shortly afterwards the carriage drew 
up, and also Dr. Tatham, on horse- 
back. 

"Good morning! good morning, 
my friends," cried he cheerfully, as 
he entered, holding forth both his 
hands; "you can't think how fresh 
and pleasant the air is ! The country 
for me, at all times of the year ! I 
hate towns ! Did you sleep well ? I 
slept like a top all night long ;— no, I 
didn't either, by the way. Come, 
come, ladies ! On with your bonnets 
and shawls ! " Thus rattled on worthy 
little Dr. Tatham, in order to prevent 
anything being said which might dis- 
turb those whom he came to see, or 
cause his own highly-charged feelings 
to give way. The sight of Mrs. and 
Miss Aubrey, however, who greeted 
him in silence as they hastily drew on 
their bonnets and shawls, overcame 
his ill-assumed cheerfulness ; and be- 
fore he could bustle back, as he pre- 
sently did, to the street door, his eyes 
were obstructed with tears, and he 
wrung the hand of Mr. Aubrey, who 
stood beside him, with convulsive 
energy. They soon set off, and at a 
rapid pace, Dr. Tatham riding along 
beside the carriage. Yatton was about 
twelve miles off. For the first few 
miles they preserved a tolerable show 
of cheerfulness ; but as they perceived 
themselves nearing Yatton, it became 
plainly more and more of an effort for 



J any of them to speak. Dr. Tatham, 
also, talked to them seldomer through 
the windows. At one time he dropped 
considerably behind ; at another, he 
rode as much ahead. 

"Oh, Charles, don't you dread to 
see Yatton?" said Miss Aubrey sud- 
denly, as they turned a familiar corner 
of the road. Neither of them replied 
to her. 

"When you come to the village," 
said Mr. Aubrey presently, to the 
postilion, "drive through it, right up 
to the Hall, as quickly as you can." 
He was obeyed. As they passed 
through the village, with their win- 
dows up, none of them seemed dis- 
posed to look through, but leaned 
back, in silence, in their seats. 

" God bless you ! God bless you ! I 
shall call in the evening," exclaimed 
Dr. Tatham ; as, having reached the 
vicarage, he hastily waved his hand, 
and turned off. Soon they had passed 
the park gates ; when had they entered 
it before with such heavy hearts — 
with eyes so dreading to encounter 
every familiar object that met them ? 
Alas ! the spacious park was no longer 
theirs ; not a tree, not a shrub, not a 
flower, not an inch of ground ; the 
trees all putting forth their fresh green 
leaves — nothing was theirs ; the fine 
old turreted gateway, an object always, 
hitherto, of peculiar pride and attach- 
ment, their hearts seemed to tremble 
as they rattled under it. 

"Courage, my sweet loves ! Cour- 
age ! courage ! " exclaimed Mi"- Au- 
brey, grasping each of their hands, and 
then they burst into tears. Mr. 
Aubrey felt his own fortitude griev- 
ously shaken as he entered the Old 
Hall, no longer his home, and reflected, 
moreover — bitterest thought of all — 
that he had been declared by the law 
to have been hitherto the wrongful 
occupant of it ; that he must forth- 
with proceed to "set his house in 
order," and prepare for a dreadful 
reckoning with him whom the Jaw 
had declared to be the true owner of 
Yatton. 

The formal result of the trial at 
York was, as has been already inti- 
mated, to declare Mr. Titmouse entitled 



•252 



TEN THOUSAND A-YEAE. 



to recover possession of only that in- 
significant portion of the estates held 
by Jacob Jolter : and that, too, only 
in the event of the first four days of 
the ensuing term elapsing, without 
any successful attempt being made 
to impeach, before the court, the pro- 
priety of the verdict of the jury. It 
is a principle of our English law, that 
the verdict of a jury is, in general, 
irreversible and conclusive : but, inas- 
much as that verdict may have been 
improperly obtained — as, for instance, 
either through the misdirection of the 
judge, or his erroneous admission or 
rejection of evidence ; or may have no 
force in point of law by reason of the 
pleadings of the party for whom it has 
been given, being insufficient to war- 
rant the court to award its final judg- 
ment upon, and according to, such 
verdict, or by reason of the discovery 
of fresh evidence subsequently to the 
trial : therefore the law hath given 
the party who failed at the trial, till 
the end of the first four days of the 
term next ensuing, to show the court 
why the verdict obtained by his oppo- 
nent ought to go for nothing, and 
matters remain as they were before 
the trial, or a new trial be had. So 
anxious is our law to afford the utmost 
scope and opportunity for ascertaining 
what ought to be its decision, which, 
when obtained, is, as hath been said, 
solemnly and permanently conclusive 
upon the subject ; such the effectual 
and practical corrective of any error or 
miscarriage in the working of that 
noble engine — trial by jury. Thus, 
then, it appears, that the hands of 
Mr. Titmouse and his advisers were at 
all events stayed till the first four 
days of Easter term should have 
elapsed. During the considerable 
interval thus afforded to the advisers 
of Mr. Aubrey, his case, as it appeared 
upon the notes of his counsel on their 
briefs, with the indirect assistance and 
corroboration derived from the short- 
hand writers' notes, underwent re- 
peated and most anxious examination 
in all its parts and bearings, by all 
his legal advisers. Tt need hardly be 
said, that every point in the case 
favourable to their client had been 



distinctly and fully 'raised by the 
Attorney-General, assisted by his very 
able juniors, Mr. Stirling and Mr. 
Crystal ; and so was it with the coun- 
sel of Mr. Titmouse, as, indeed, the 
result showed. On subsequent ex- 
amination, none of them could dis- 
cover any false step, or any advantage 
which had been overlooked, or taken 
inefficiently. Independently of various 
astute objections taken by the Attor- 
ney-General to the reception of several 
important portions of the plaintiff's 
evidence, the leading points relied on 
in favour of Mr. Aubrey were — the 
impropriety of Lord AViddrington's 
rejection of the deed of confirmation 
on account of the erasure in it ; the 
effect of that deed, assuming the 
erasure not to have warranted its re- 
jection ; and several questions arising 
out of the doctrine of adverse posses- 
sion, by which alone, it had been con- 
tended at the trial, that the claim of 
the descendants of Stephen Dreddling- 
tou had been peremptorily and finally 
barred. Two very long consultations 
had been held at the Attorney-Gen- 
eral's chambers, attended by Mr. Stir- 
ling, Mr. Crystal, Mr. Mansfield, the 
three partners in the firm of Kunning- 
ton and Company, Mr. Parkinson, 
and Mr. Aubrey — who had come up 
to town for the purpose alone. Greatly 
to the surprise of all of them, he 
stated most distinctly and emphatic- 
ally, that he insisted on no ground of 
objection being taken against his op- 
ponent, except such as was strictly 
just, equitable, honourable, and con- 
scientious. Rather than defeat him 
on mere technicalities — rather than 
avail himself of mere positive rules 
of law, while the eight, as between 
man and man, was substantially in 
favour of his opponent — Mr. Aubrey 
declared, however absurd or Quixotic 
he might be thought, that he would 
— if he had them — lose fifty Yattons. 
Flat justitia, ruat ccelum. "You 
mean to say, Aubrey," interrupted 
the Attorney-General mildly, after 
listening for some time to his friend 
and client with evident interest, and 
admiration of his pure and high- 
minded character — "that it would be 



TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR. 



253 



unconscientious of yoxi to avail your- 
self of a fixed and beneficial rule of 
law, established upon considerations 
of general equity and utility — such, 
for instance, as that of adverse posses- 
sion in order to retain possession, 
while—" 

"Pray, Mr. Attorney-General, if I 
had lent you five hundred pounds 
seven or eight years ago, would you 
set up the statute of limitations against 
me when I asked for repayment ? " 

"Excuse me, Aubrey," replied the 
Attorney-General, with a faint flush 
upon his handsome and dignified fea- 
tures ; ' ' but how idle all this is ! One 
would imagine that we were sitting in 
a school of casuistry ! What are we 
met for, in the name of common sense ? 
For what, but to prevent the rightful 
owner of property from being deprived 
of it by a trumpery accidental erasure 
in one of his title-deecTs, which time 
has deprived him of the means of 
accounting for? " He then, in a very 
kind way, but with a dash of peremp- 
toriness, requested that the case might 
be left in their hands, and that they 
might be given credit for resorting to 
nothing that was inconsistent with the 
nicest and most fastidious sense of 
honour. This observation put an end 
to so unprecedented an interference ; 
but if Mr. Aubrey supposed that it 
had any effect upon €he Attorney- 
General, he was mistaken ; for of 
course that learned and eminent per- 
son secretly resolved to avail himself 
of every conceivable means, great and 
small, available for overt arning the 
verdict, and securing the Aubreys in 
the possession of Yatton. He at the 
same time earnestly endeavoured to 
moderate the expectations of his client, 
declaring that he was by no means 
sanguine as to the issue ; that Lord 
Widdrington's rulings at Nisi Prius 
were very formidable things — in fact, 
rarely assailable ; and then, again, the 
senior puisne judge of the court — Mr. 
Justice Grayley — had been consulted 
by Lord Widdrington at the trial, and 
concurred with him in his principal 
ruling, now sought to be moved against. 
At the close of the second consulta- 
tion, on the night of the first day in 



Easter term, (the Attorney-General in- 
tending to move on the ensuing morn- 
ing,) after having finally gone over the 
case in all its bearings, and agreed 
upon the exact grounds of moving — 
the Attorney-General called back Mr. 
Runnington for a moment, as he was 
walking away with Mr. Aubrey, and 
whispered to him, that it would be 
very proper to assume at once that the 
motion failed ; and consider the best 
mode of negotiating concerning the 
surrender of the bulk of the property, 
and the payment of the mesne profits. 

" Oh ! Mr. Aubrey has quite made 
up his mind to the worst, Mr. Attor- 
ney-General." ' 

" Ah, well ! " replied the Attorney- 
General with a sigh ; and about five 
minutes after Mr. Runnington's de- 
parture, the Attorney-General stepped 
into his carriage, which had been 
standing for the last hour opposite 
his chambers. He drove down to the 
House of Commons, where he almost 
immediately after delivered a long and 
luminous speech on one of the most 
important and intricate questions that 
had been discussed during the session. 
The first four days of term are an 
awkward interval equally to incom- 
petent counsel and incompetent judges 
— when such there are. The slips of 
both then come to light ; both have 
to encounter the keen and vigilant 
scrutiny of a learned, acute, and inde- 
pendent body-^the English bar. If a 
judge should happen to be in any 
degree unequal to the exigencies of 
his impor